This paper describes a new range of metal-carbon catalysts which consist of a three dimensional array of small metal particles dispersed throughout the bulk of a carbon matrix. This structure confers a number of potential advantages over conventional metal-carbon systems. The mechanism of catalyst formation has been studied and ESR has been used to characterise the copper-carbon precursor which determines the physical nature of the final catalyst. The activation of the carbon matrix of the copper-carbon catalysts has been optimised in a series of statistically designed experiments. The materials have been characterised by AA, XRD and SEM. Measurements have been made of metal particle size and area, total surface area and pore volume. Catalytic activity has been assessed using a model reaction.