Abstract Hydrogen adsorbate forms arising on thin gold films upon interaction with atomic hydrogen at 78 K have been studied by means of TDMS (thermal desorption mass spectrometry) and by determination of the adsorption rate. At low coverage (θ ≽ 0.01) hydrogen adspecies characterized by an activation energy of desorption Ed = 57 kJ/mol have been found. At higher coverages a weakly adsorbed hydrogen species is formed (Ed = 54−33 kJ/mol). Examination of the adsorption kinetics indicates that this process is accompanied by recombination via the Eley-Rideal mechanism. Initial sticking probability for atomic hydrogen on the thin gold film surface at 78 K has been estimated to be ∼ 6 × 10−3.