A process for production of a metal hydride compound MH.sub.x, wherein x is one or two and M is an alkali metal, Be or Mg. The process comprises combining a compound of formula (R.sup.1O).sub.xM with aluminum, hydrogen and at least one metal selected from among titanium, zirconium, hafnium, niobium, vanadium, tantalum and iron to produce a compound of formula MH.sub.x. R.sup.1 is phenyl or phenyl substituted by at least one alkyl or alkoxy group. A mole ratio of aluminum to (R.sup.1O).sub.xM is from 0.1:1 to 1:1. The catalyst is present at a level of at least 200 ppm based on weight of aluminum.