Cryptomelane type manganese oxide OMS-2 material was synthesized by redox reaction between potassium permanganate and manganese sulphate in acidic medium under reflux or hydrothermal crystallization conditions. Ce was added by ion-exchange, impregnation or directly at crystallization stage. The chemical composition, structure, texture, morphology and thermal stability of the materials were measured by EDX spectroscopy, XRD, N2-adsorption, SEM and TGA. Results of the catalytic wet oxidation of phenol at 100°C indicate best performance of the well-crystallized octahedral molecular sieve with cryptomelane structure where all the accessible potassium ions were exchanged for cerium cations. OMS-2 materials containing pure CeO2 phase and excess of active oxygen species had lower stability, activity and capacity for oxidative reactive adsorption of phenol. Implementation of Ce-exchanged crystalline OMS-2 catalyst improves the wastewater treatment capacity by a factor of 1.5-2 and 3 compared with co-precipitated Mn-Ce-oxide and activated carbon, respectively. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.