Molten carbonate type fuel cell involves a problem of oxidation of anode while the unit is stopped. Although there is a method proposed wherein an inactive gas is supplied to anode during the stoppage, the market-available inactive gas contains a slight amount of oxygen which makes it difficult to prevent the deterioration of the anode. In this invention, at the start and the stop other than the normal operation, a protective gas mixture of an inactive gas with a small amount of hydrogen is supplied to the anode. The inactive gas is a commercial type nitrogen, argon or helium; hydrogen is mixed in amount 0.5 - 2.0% of the inactive gas. By this method, oxygen in air which comes in from the gas-sealed portion of the cell is reduced by hydrogen in the protective gas and is discharged in the form of water. 2 figs.