In this paper a study is reported concerning ceramic coatings containing cerium oxide, prepared by the sol-gel method, used to protect Incoloy 800H against sulphidation. When the coating is sintered in air at 850°C good protection is obtained. In an X-ray absorption spectroscopic study of the coatings it was observed that the best protective coating contains all cerium as CeIV after pretreatment. After sulphidizing cerium was reduced to CeIII. Possible mechanisms to explain the protective properties are discussed.