The behaviour of an adiabatic packed bed reactor with periodic flow reversal has been studied by means of model calculations. A heterogeneous model as well as a pseudo-homogeneous model have been developed. It is shown that a high degree of conversion can be obtained in an autothermal process even with very low adiabatic temperature rises of some 10 to 20 K. The reactor is insensitive to fluctuations in inlet concentrations and in through-put. Short-cut methods proposed in the literature for calculating the plateau temperature in the pseudo-steady state are studied. The so called countercurrent-flow reactor approach showed reasonable agreement with the plateau temperature obtained by dynamic calculations with the full reactor model.