The objective of this work is to elucidate controlling mechanisms in NO x reduction, develop reduced-order reaction models, and analyze the reactor performance using the reduced-order reaction model for the NO-CO reaction. We start with the microkinetic model on platinum, which describes the mechanism of catalytic reduction of NO by CO. The formation of the main product N 2O and the competitive formation of the side product N 2 are accounted for in the microkinetic model. Sensitivity and reaction path analysis have been carried out to determine the rate-limiting steps as well as the most abundant reactive intermediates in the system. Owing to the differences between system performance at high and low temperatures, the model has been analyzed in detail in these temperature regimes. Two closed-form expressions, corresponding to the two global reactions involved, have been derived. The characteristic features of the microkinetic model such as the sharp increase in NO conversion and the selectivity to N 2O are captured well by the reduced model. The reduced-order model has been extended to the rhodium catalyst as well. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.