Developing a facile and efficient method is an important approach for promising commercial catalytic applications. Toxic organic pollutants in waste waters are becoming a worldwide problem that threatens life on earth and prevents essential elements to sustain living organisms. Herein, the effect of catalyst support on the activity of copper oxide (CuO) nanoparticles for catalytic reduction of 4-nitrophenol (4-NP) in presence of sodium borohydride (NaBH4)-aqueous medium was discussed. A simple and conventional wet impregnation method was used for the deposition of CuO nanoparticles on several metal oxides (Al2O3, SiO2, MgO, CaO, ZnO, ZrO2). The prepared catalysts were characterized via using techniques such as X-ray diffraction (XRD), nitrogen sorption, inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The effect of support material on the catalytic performance of CuO nanoparticles for the reduction of 4-NP was evaluated and the performance order of support was ZrO2 > Al2O3 > SiO2 > CaO > MgO > ZnO. CuO/ZrO2 catalyst exhibited excellent catalytic activity and the pseudo-first-order rate constant was determined as 15.97 x 10(-3) s(-1). Considering the simple preparation process and the efficient catalytic reduction of 4-NP of CuO/ZrO2, this study opens up a marvelous chance to this material for practical application of waste water treatment. (C) 2020 The Society of Powder Technology Japan. Published by Elsevier B.V. and The Society of Powder Technology Japan. All rights reserved.