Thermal effects on three-way catalysts and deterioration characteristics were studied.Aging atmosphere (oxidizing or reducing) and temperature contributed to catalyst performance deterioration. Catalysts sharply lost their activities under oxidizing conditions at an aging temperature of 900°C and above. Thermal degradation was found due mainly to the decrease in the surface area of alumina coated on the substrate and the increase in the size of cerium oxide (CeO2) crystal particle, an oxgen storage component (OSC). Also observed was a close correlation between the alumina surface area loss and the volume loss of micro pores with their radius less than 100 Å. Tests demonstrated that the catalyst thermal degradation can be reduced if the alumina micro pore volume loss and the CeO2 crystal particle size increase are restrained.