Treating ZnO and NiO oxides with glow discharge oxygen plasma and high-frequency argon plasma is found to affect the catalytic activity of these oxides in the dehydrogenation reaction of isopropanol, leading to an increase in the conversion of alcohol and the yield of acetone. The increased activity of ZnO is due to the high number of acid sites induced by plasma-chemical treatment. With NiO, the increased activity results from the formation of new, more active sites with low experimental activation energy, rather than a change in the surface acidity. © 2015 Pleiades Publishing, Ltd © 2015 M.N. Danilova, A.I. Pylinina, E.A. Platonov, V.D. Yagodovskii, 2015, published in Zhurnal Fizicheskoi Khimii.