This work theoretically investigates propylene epoxidation reaction on Cu2O(001) and CuO(001) surfaces using periodical DFT method to determine the active copper species within the reaction mechanism. The transition states and energy profiles are calculated for the formation of surface intermediates such as oxametallopropylene (OMP) over Cu2O(0 0 1) and oxygen bridging (OB) over CuO(0 0 1) and allylic H-stripping reaction (AHS) over both surfaces as well as for formation of products. Propylene oxide (PO) and acetone are obtained through OMP and OB surface intermediates and acrolein generation is observed through allylic H-stripping reaction (AHS). The calculations revealed that the corresponding surface intermediates for epoxidation reaction need to overcome an activation barrier of 13 kcal/mol over CuO surface whereas they occur without an energy barrier over Cu2O surface indicating the higher activity of Cu+ species. Acrolein is also found to be a thermodynamically more favorable product for both surfaces especially over CuO surface due to the presence of more surface oxygen atoms on which the basicity has been evaluated by the adsorption of sulfur dioxide. This indicates that the lattice oxygen inherent in both surface types does not participate in PO production. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.