Abstract: Bentonite- and sepiolite-supported copper catalysts have been prepared either by adsorption of Cu(II) from aqueous solutions of copper nitrate at pH ∼4.5 or by adsorption ofa [Cu(NH3)4]2+ complex from an ammonia solution of CuSO4 at pH ∼9.5. The structure and composition of the calcined preparations have been studied by X-ray diffraction, chemical analysis, and energy dispersive X-rays. Textural characteristics have derived from the analysis of the adsorption-desorption isotherms of N2. All catalysts have been tested for the dehydrogenation of methanol to methyl formate. For this reaction, bentonite-based catalysts were found to have very little activity, which indicates that copper located in the interlamellar spaces is inaccessible to methanol molecules. On the contrary, copper-sepiolite catalysts showed a very high specific activity even for those catalysts with a very low copper content. The chemical state of copper in the catalysts on-stream has been revealed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and X-ray-induced Auger techniques. In most of the catalysts Cu+ is the dominant copper species.