Abstract Catalytic steam reforming of acetic acid and hydroxyacetone (acetol) as model compounds of the aqueous fraction of bio-oil (biomass derived pyrolysis liquids) was studied in fluidized bed reactor over Ni/Al catalysts modified with calcium or magnesium. Attrition tests showed that the use of small quantities of these promoters improved the mechanical strength of the reforming catalyst. An optimum Ca/Al molar ratio of 0.12 and a Mg/Al molar ratio of 0.26 leaded to attrition rates of 0.22 and 0.27 wt%/h, respectively. Steam reforming experiments were performed at 650 °C and a steam to carbon molar ratio (S/C) of 5.58. The promoted catalysts showed different acetic acid steam reforming activities depending on the Ca/Al or Mg/Al molar ratios. Magnesium modified catalysts with a Mg/Al molar ratios of 0.26 and 0.50 showed good performances with almost no activity loss with time in contrast to the calcium modified catalysts that showed higher CO and CH 4 yields. The addition of calcium generated a NiO phase with less interaction with the support. The highest H 2 yield and carbon conversion in acetic steam reforming were obtained by a magnesium promoted catalyst with a Mg/Al ratio of 0.26, while the nonpromoted Ni/Al catalyst showed the best performance in acetol steam reforming. Then, the nature of the organic compound influenced the performance of the different catalysts.