The effect of the promoter and micellar catalyst on chromic acid on the oxidation of ethanol in aqueous acid media has been studied. Picolinic acid (PA), 1,10-phenanthroline (phen), and 2,2′-bipyridine (bipy) are used as promoters. Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), cetyl pyridinium chloride (CPC), and Triton-X-100 (TX-100) are tested as micellar catalysts. Hexavelent chromium is an active species in the absence of the promoter. In the presence of the heteroaromatic nitrogen bases used as the promoter, Cr(VI)–PA, Cr(VI)–bipy, and Cr(VI)–phen complexes have been proposed as the active oxidants. The time taken for completion of the reaction using different combinations of promoter and micellar catalysts are different. Although the rate is highest (12.5 times) in TX-100 in the absence of the promoter, it is observed that the rate is almost 737 times faster for the combination of SDS and bipy compared to the unpromoted and uncatalyzed path. CPC inhibits the oxidation process. The observed acceleration and retardation of the rate of oxidation process has been explained on the basis of partitioning of the reactants in the micellar and aqueous phase. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Chem Kinet 45: 175–186, 2013