A series of FeOx-MeOy/Mg(Al)O catalysts were prepared from hydrotalcite-like compounds as precursors and were tested in the ethylbenzene dehydrogenation to styrene in He atmosphere at 550 °C. The hydrotalcite-like precursors of the metal compositions of Mg3Fe 0.25Me0.25Al0.5 (Me = Cu, Zn, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co and Ni) were coprecipitated from the nitrates of metal components and calcined to mixed oxides at 550 °C. After the calcination, the mixed oxides showed high surface area of 150-200 m2 gcat -1, and were mainly composed of (MgMe)(Fe3+Al)O periclase in the bulk, whereas the surface was enriched by (MgMe)(Fe3+Al)2O 4 pinel. Among the Me species tested, Co2+ was the most effective, followed by Ni2+. Co2+ addition increased the activity of original FeOx/Mg(Al)O catalyst, whereas Ni2+ increased the activity at the beginning of reaction, but deactivated the catalyst during the reaction. The other metals formed isolated MeOx species in the catalyst, resulting in a decrease in the activity compared to the original FeOx/Mg(Al)O catalyst. The active Fe species exists as metastable Fe3+ on the FeOx/Mg(Al)O catalyst. By the addition of Co2+, the reduction-oxidation between Fe3+ and Fe2+ was facilitated and, moreover, the active Fe3+ species was stabilized. It is likely that the dehydrogenation proceeds on the active Fe3+ species via its reduction-oxidation assisted by Co 2+. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.