A new simple and versatile technique to obtain mesoporous oxides is presented. While implying surfactant-assisted formation of mesostructured intermediates, the original chemical contribution of this approach lies in the use of atrane complexes as precursors. Without prejudice to their inherent unstability in aqueous solution, the atranes show a marked inertness towards hydrolysis. Bringing kinetic factors into play, it becomes possible to control the processes involved in the formation of the surfactant-inorganic phase composite micelles, which constitute the elemental building blocks of the mesostructures. Independent of the starting compositional complexity, both the mesostructured intermediates and the final mesoporous materials are chemically homogeneous. The final ordered mesoporous materials are thermally stable and show unimodal porosity, as well as homogeneous microstructure and texture. Examples of materials synthesised on account of the versatility of this new method, including siliceous, non siliceous and mixed oxides, are presented and discussed. (C) 2000 Editions scientifiques et medicales Elsevier SAS.