The invention relates to catalysts and catalytic methods for selective oxidation of hydrogen sulfide (H.sub.2S) in a gas stream containing one or more oxidizable components other than H.sub.2S to generate sulfur dioxide (SO.sub.2), elemental sulfur (S) or both without substantial oxidation of the one or more oxidizable components other than H.sub.2S. The catalysts and methods herein are useful, for example, for the selective oxidation of H.sub.2S to SO.sub.2, sulfur or both in the presence of hydrocarbons, hydrocarbon oxygenate, sulfur-containing organic compounds, aromatic hydrocarbons, aliphatic hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, hydrogen or carbon monoxide.
 The work leading to this invention was funded at least in part by the United States Government through Department of Energy grant Nos. DE-FC26-99FT40725 and DE-FC26-99FT40497. The United States Government has certain rights in this invention.