An intumescent flame retardant system composed of ammonium polyphosphate (APP) and pentaerythritol (PER) was used for flame retarding ethylene–propylene–diene-modified elastomer (EPDM)/polypropylene (PP) blends. Cerium phosphate (CeP) was synthesized and the effect on flame retardancy and thermal stability of EPDM/PP composites based on intumescent flame retardant (IFR) were studied by limiting oxygen index (LOI), UL-94, and thermogravimetic analysis (TGA), respectively. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Fourier transform infrared spectrometry (FTIR) were used to analyze the morphological structure and the component of the residue chars formed from the EPDM/PP composites, and the mechanical properties of the materials were also studied. The addition of CeP to the EPDM/PP/APP/PER composites gives better flame retardancy than that of EPDM/PP/APP/PER composites. TGA and RT-FTIR studies indicated that an interaction occurs among APP, PER, and EPDM/PP. The incorporation of CeP improved the mechanical properties of the materials. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.