Cu-Al2O3 nanocomposite is successfully synthesized by reactive milling of CuO/Cu2O and Al. Wet milling in toluene transforms the combustion reaction to a progressive reaction. The extent of reduction reaction increases with increase in excess reductant (Al). The crystallite size of Cu obtained from reactive milling is much finer than that obtained from ball milling of Cu and Al2O3. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.