Pd/MgO model catalysts are prepared by vapor deposition of Pd particles on MgO thin films which are deposited, at different temperatures, on UHV cleaved mica. MgO films and Pd particles are characterized in situ by Auger electron spectroscopy and energy-loss spectroscopy and ex situ by transmission electron microscopy. Successive temperature programmed desorption (TPD) of CO shows a different evolution of the morphology of the Pd particles deposited on MgO films prepared at low and high temperature. In addition, on MgO prepared at low temperature, the smallest particles show a continuous decay of CO adsorption during TPD due to contamination by support species. © 1988, American Vacuum Society. All rights reserved.