Abstract: The thermal reaction sequence of a synthetic hectorite (Laponite CP) was studied by X-ray diffraction, i.r. spectroscopy and thermal analysis. Although most of the interlayer water is removed at 200°C, a smally steady weight loss occurs until dehydroxylation is complete at about 700°C, indicating that an anhydrous intermediate phase is not formed prior to dehydroxylation. Immediately after dehydroxylation, enstatite and cristobalite can be identified, but lithium silicates are formed only from lithium-saturated hectorite. Around 1200°C a glass is formed by reaction of the alkalis with cristobalite, and removal of silica from the enstatite produces some forsterite. An inhomogeneous mechanism of dehydroxylation is postulated by analogy with that proposed for talc.