The conversion of light paraffins to olefins and the secondary reactions of the unsaturated compounds were investigated on H-ZSM5 and H-Y zeolites between 733 and 823 K. Steady state- and transient response-isotope tracing studies revealed that two mechanisms of dehydrogenation are operative. The main pathway is represented by monomolecular, protolytic dehydrogenation. This reaction contributes most to steady state olefin production. Additionally, at the initial stages of the reaction, extra framework aluminum moieties are speculated to participate in high dehydrogenation activity. This pathway is blocked at later stages of the reaction by product (hydrogen) inhibition. The intrinsic rates of protolytic dehydrogenation and olefin desorption range in the same order of magnitude. At high protolytic dehydrogenation rates, olefin desorption represents the rate determining step. Depending on the process conditions, olefins undergo secondary cracking, oligomerization, or isomerization. The latter proceeds via intramolecular rearrangement, possibly via a cyclopropylcarbenium ion at high temperatures and low conversions. At reaction conditions where bimolecular cracking prevails, isomerization is concluded to occur via secondary cracking of di- or oligomers.