Gamma lithium aluminate is a potential candidate for tritium breeding material. Various preparation routes have been proposed including solid state reaction methods and wet chemical methods such as sol-gel process. But it is still needed to develop reliable and economic preparation methods that can be used for large production. In this paper, we examined three polymeric precursor methods - amorphous citrate process, Pechini process, and polyvinyl alcohol-assisted process - by studying thermal behavior of the precursor powders by X-ray diffractometry, differential thermal analysis, Infrared spectrometry, and BET surface area analysis. All these three processes produced phase pure gamma lithium aluminate powders at a relatively low temperature. The phase purity and processing temperature were comparable to the alkoxide derived sol-gel method and yet these polymeric precursor methods did not require high quality starting materials such as alkoxides. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.