Abstract In recent years, numerous bibliographic reviews have been devoted to mild oxidation catalysts. Some correlations between their physicochemical and catalytic properties have been put forward, but no clear picture has emerged. More recently, the new concept of the structure sensitivity of mild oxidation reactions appeared. The amount of work dealing with this topic is now considerable. The aim of this review is to gather examples of structure sensitive catalytic reactions on oxides. The consequences of this new concept on the problems associated with the preparation of oxide catalysts are discussed.