Nickel nanoparticles were obtained by the reduction in hydrazine aqueous media of nickel acetate as a precursor supported on activated carbon of high surface area. Classical catalysts using nickel acetate or nitrate were prepared for comparison. The catalysts were characterized by N(2) physisorption, H(2)-TPR, H(2)-adsorption, TPD, TEM, and XRD, and tested in the gas phase hydrogenation of benzene. Hydrazine catalysts were found much more active in benzene hydrogenation than corresponding classically prepared catalysts. Remarkably, their reactivity is comparable (turn-over frequency of 0.2001-0.2539 s(-1) at 393 K) to that of Pt classical catalysts supported on activated carbon in the same conditions. Evidence is given for the existence of the hydrogen spillover effect in benzene hydrogenation, not reported before in the literature. As a result of the hydrogen spillover effect, catalysts performances can be explained by a combination of surface metal atom reactivity, metal-support interaction strength, and specific surface area extent. Maximum effect is observed with hydrazine preparation method, for 1% Ni content and nickel acetate as a precursor. Unexpectedly, it was also found that hydrazine preparation increases the specific area of the catalysts.