Commercial mordenite was dealuminated with hydrochloric acid by refluxing at 373 K for different durations to develop a stable catalyst for the selective oxidation of benzyl alcohol. The commercial and dealuminated mordenite samples were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, N2 adsorption-desorption, high resolution scanning electron microscopy (HR-SEM) and temperature programmed desorption (NH3-TPD). The results revealed that the external surface area increased with acid treatment while preserving the mordenite structure. The catalytic performance of acid-treated mordenite was evaluated in the selective oxidation of benzyl alcohol with tert-butyl hydroperoxide (TBHP) as the oxidant and acetonitrile as the solvent. The influences of the variation in catalyst amount, reaction temperature, TBHP/BzOH ratio and SiO2/Al2O3 ratio (SAR) were investigated. The sample with a SAR of 33, obtained after acid treatment for 3 h, exhibited a higher conversion than the other samples. At the optimum conditions, the benzyl alcohol conversion and benzaldehyde selectivity were about 99% and 98%, respectively, over this sample. This catalyst could be reused at least four times without any significant loss in its activity and selectivity. The selective oxidation of substituted benzyl alcohols is also reported. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.