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The high performance of Au-CeO2 and Au-TiO2 catalysts in the water-gas shift (WGS) reaction (H2O + CO→H2 + CO2) relies heavily on the direct participation of the oxide in the catalytic process. Although clean Au(111) is not catalytically active for the WGS, gold surfaces that are 20 to 30% covered by ceria or titania nanoparticles have activities comparable to those of good WGS catalysts such as Cu(111) or Cu(100). In TiO2-x/Au(111) and CeO2-x/Au(111), water dissociates on O vacancies of the oxide nanoparticles, CO adsorbs on Au sites located nearby, and subsequent reaction steps take place at the metal-oxide interface. In these inverse catalysts, the moderate chemical activity of bulk gold is coupled to that of a more reactive oxide.