A process is described for increasing the octane number of a hydrocarbon oil. The substance is subjected under pressure to a temperature between 800 and 1100/sup 0/C. Catalysts include metal compounds of Groups IV, V, Vi, or VIII (Group VI is perferred). Experiments are performed under a hydrogen atmosphere. Reaction time, temperature, pressure, and partial pressure of the hydrogen are adjusted so that there will be no net hydrogen consumption. The reaction gases (including the products) are recycled in whole or in part to supply the hydrogen gas required.