Cerium-doped lithium niobate crystals are tested for holographic recording. A photochromic effect is observed in crystals doped with cerium and manganese. But two-center recording in the sample is not as effective as in iron and manganese doubly doped crystals. Photocurrent measurements in cerium and iron singly doped crystals indicate that the photovoltaic constant in the cerium-doped crystal is only one third of that of the iron-doped one. This is the main reason accounting for the low sensitivity of cerium-doped lithium niobate crystals. However, in the diffusion dominated case, i.e., for reflection geometry, cerium-doped lithium niobate may give a strong effect. (C) 2000 American Institute of Physics. [S0021- 8979(00)08505-4].