Rules are presented for the startup of an adiabatic tubular reactor, based on a qualitative analysis of the dynamic behavior of continuously-operated vapor- and liquid-phase processes. The relationships between the process dynamics, operating criteria, and operating constraints are investigated, since a reactor startup cannot be isolated from an entire plant startup. Composition control of the process material is critical to speed up plant startup operations and to minimize the amount of offgrade materials. The initial reactor conditions are normally critical for a successful startup. For process conditioning, a plant should have an operating mode at which the reactor can be included in a recycle loop together with its feed system and downstream process section. Experimental data of an adiabatic tubular reactor startup and thermal runaway demonstrate some operational problems when such an intermediate operating stage is missing. The derived rules are applied to an industrial, highly heat-integrated reactor section, and the resulting startup strategy is summarized in an elementary-step diagram.