A mathematical model has been developed that predicts the effects of design parameters, operating variables and physical properties on the performance of a membrane reactor with a permeselective wall. The model consists of the full set of partial differential equations that describe the conservation of mass, momentum and chemical species, coupled with chemical kinetics and appropriate boundary conditions for the physical problem. The solution of this system is obtained by a finite-volume technique. The model was applied to study the dehydrogenation of cyclohexane. Two membrane types in tubular form were studied: a selective porous glass with low gas permeabilities and a porous alumina with very high gas permeabilities. It is concluded that gas separation and reactor performance are strongly influenced by dispersion effects only in the latter membrane reactor, while in both cases radial concentration profiles do not correspond to those obtained with plug flow. Therefore, simulations of this type of problem should be based on complex dispersion models rather than the existing ideal plug-flow ones.