Cerium-doped cryptomelane stabilizes polyhedron Au nano-particles smaller than 3 nm. The obtained Au/Ce/cryptomelane catalyst is highly active for CO oxidation. Cationic, neutral, and anionic gold species were found on Ce/cryptomelane. The modification of cryptomelane by the addition of cerium is twofold: (i) cerium is incorporated in the tunnels of cryptomelane, increasing the number of defects which function as nucleation sites for gold and (ii) ceria nano-particles at the surface induce charge transfer between gold and cryptomelane. TOF for Au/Ce–K-OMS-2 is about twice that of Au/CeO2 prepared by the same procedure.