Abstract An electron spectroscopic study of a nitrided FeTi material has been carried out. Similarly prepared samples have shown enhanced catalytic activity for NH 3 production [E. Schwab and E. Wicke, Z. Physik. Chem. (NF) 122 (1980) 217], which was attributed to small iron particles embedded in a TiN matrix. Electron spectra are consistent with this interpretation, suggesting the breakdown of the original FeTi intermetallic lattice, and the formation of TiN. No significant electron transfer between the iron particles and the TiN lattice is observed in this study. These observations rule out an electronic factor as the source of the enhanced ammonia synthesis activity of nitrided FeTi.