Novel plasma torch generated Pd/C, and PdAg/C catalysts were tested for reactivity for two hydrogenation reactions and characterized using a number of techniques. The general conclusion reached was that the metal catalysts created in this fashion were extremely highly dispersed (>50% in some cases) and had concomitantly high activity on a gram basis. The PdAg/C catalysts exceeded the selectivity of PdAg/Al2O3 catalysts for selective hydrogenation of acetylene. The selectivity of Pd/C catalysts for 1-butene isomerization was equal or better than that of catalysts prepared by conventional means, and the activity nearly as high. One surprise was the finding that plasma generated PdAg/C catalysts had no apparent activity for 1-butene isomerization. A second surprise was the finding that the plasma treatment did not increase the crystallinity of the carbon but did result in the loss up to 30% of the surface area. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.