A novel technique is described for the preparation of Al2O3-doped CeO2-coated ZrO2 nanopowders from a solution of :aluminium nitrate and cerium nitrate in a mixed alcohol/water suspension with monoclinic zirconia (m-ZrO2) powder. Drying of the suspension and subsequent calcination of the powder at 800 degreesC results in alumina-doped CeO2-coated m-ZrO2 nanopowder with a grain size below 100 nm. The as-prepared powder can be pressureless sintered in air at 1450 degrees into dense ceria-stabilised tetragonal polycrystals (Ce-TZP) materials with an excellent fracture toughness of 11 MPa m(1/2) and a Vickers hardness of 750 kg/mm(2) (HV30). The microstructure and mechanical properties of the alumina-doped CeO2-coated powder-based TZP are compared with that of a Ce-TZP obtained from commercially available co-precipitated powder. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.