We studied the catalytic hydrogenation of levulinic acid over zirconia supported ruthenium catalysts. Four different Ru/ZrO2 catalysts were prepared by different pre-treatments and using different zirconium supports (ZrOx(OH)(4-2x) and ZrO2). Although the final compositions of the catalysts are the same, the pre-treatments strongly affect catalytic activity. Remarkably, one of the catalysts gave > 99% yield of gamma-valerolactone under mild conditions. This catalyst was also robust, and could be recycled at least four times without any loss in activity or selectivity. The activity is attributed to the presence of small ruthenium particles together with acidic sites on the catalyst.