Mesoporous niobium oxide spheres (MNOS), conveniently prepared by a novel antisolvent precipitation approach, have been shown to be an effective catalyst for the transamidation of primary amides with amines. This novel transamidation can be efficiently carried out under solvent-free conditions and is applicable to a wide range of primary amides and amines to provide N-alkyl amides in good to excellent yields. The catalyst is highly stable and reusable. The application of this transamidation reaction has been demonstrated in the synthesis of antidepressant drug moclobemide and other druglike compounds. © 2014 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH&Co. KGaA, Weinheim.