X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) is a quantitative, chemically specific technique with a probing depth of a few angstroms to a few nanometers. It is therefore ideally suited to investigate the chemical nature of the surfaces of catalysts. Because of the scattering of electrons by gas molecules, XPS is generally performed under vacuum conditions. However, for thermodynamic and/or kinetic reasons, the catalyst's chemical state observed under vacuum reaction conditions is not necessarily the same as that of a catalyst under realistic operating pressures. Therefore, investigations of catalysts should ideally be performed under reaction conditions, that is, in the presence of a gas or gas mixtures. Using differentially pumped chambers separated by small apertures, XPS can operate at pressures of up to 1 Torr, and with a recently developed differentially pumped lens system, the pressure limit has been raised to about 10 Torr. Here, we describe the technical aspects of high-pressure XPS and discuss recent applications of this technique to oxidation and heterogeneous catalytic reactions on metal surfaces.