A series of Ni-Ce catalysts supported on SBA-15 has been prepared by co-impregnation, extensively characterized and evaluated in the carbon dioxide reforming of methane (DRM). The characterization by TEM, XRD and TPR has allowed us to determine the effect of metal loading on metal dispersion. Cerium was found to improve nickel location inside the mesopores of SBA-15 and to suppress coke formation during the DRM reaction. The analysis by XPS allowed us to associate the high cerium dispersion with the presence of low-coordinated Ce 3+ sites, being main responsible for its promotional effect. A combination of XAS and XPS has permitted us to determine the physicochemical properties of metals under reduction conditions. The low nickel coordination number determined by XAS in Ni-Ce doped systems after reduction suggests the generation of very small nickel particles which showed greater catalytic activity and stability in the reaction, and a remarkable resistance to coke formation.