Nickel iron oxide (NiFe2O4) has been tested as a combined catalyst precursor and oxygen transfer material for improved conversion of methane into syngas. Thermogravimetric measurements with simultaneous gas analysis have demonstrated the superior behavior of nickel iron oxide compared to iron oxide. The enhanced catalytic activity is attributed to the generation of fresh nickel surfaces in the course of the reduction of the metal oxide. This allows for a periodic in situ generation of fresh, catalytically active nickel. (C) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.