The effect of adding small amounts of copper oxide (CuO) on the sintering and mechanical properties of alumina ceramic was studied. Samples were prepared and fired in air atmosphere at temperatures ranging from 1400oC to 1600oC. Sintered samples were characterized to determine phase present, bulk density, hardness and grain size. The results indicated that all the doped samples could be sintered to high density > 3.85 Mgm−3 when compared to the undoped alumina. According to the XRD analysis, the α-Al2O3 phase was not disrupted by the dopant addition. Although the hardness of the CuO-doped material was higher when sintered below 1550°C, the maximum hardness of 21 GPa was measured for the undoped ceramics when sintered at 1600°C. The lower hardness of the doped samples could be attributed to the increased in grain size with increasing sintering temperature.