Materials aspects of titanium-doped alumina catalysts are discussed in light of a partly new synthesis route, ion exchange reactions and sulfidation. Starting with a solution of the isopropoxides of aluminum and titanium, we aimed at an Al:Ti ratio of 6:1, which corresponds to the maximum acidity of the final product. Transmission electron micrographs showed that the synthesis gave a product of nearly monodisperse, rectangular particles and X-ray diffractograms revealed an amorphous to nano-crystalline structure reminiscent of gamma-Al2O3. The Brunauer-Emmet-Teller area was 340 m(2) g(-1) and the HI titration found 3 acidic sites nm(-2). These numbers indicate that the titanium modification may fourfold increase the ion exchange capacity of a regular alumina. The importance of titanium modification for catalysis is discussed in connection with selective catalytic reduction with hydrocarbon reactions over Cu/14%Ti-Al2O3 and hydrogenation of I-Me-naphthalene over sulfided NiMo/Al2O3-TiO2. The Ti4+ ions in the alumina lattice are almost irreducible, but infrared spectra suggested that these ions act as dispersion agents not only for adsorbed Cu2+ ions, but also for a supported phase of sulfided NiMo. Finally, we show that a simple weight control can be used to monitor the sulfidation and to indicate if the synthesis has produced a separate, reducible titania phase. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.