AlN ceramics doped with yttrium oxide (Y2O3) as the sintering additive were prepared via the spark plasma sintering (SPS) technique. The sintering behaviors and densification mechanism were mainly investigated. The results showed that Y2O3 addition could promote the AlN densification. Y2O3-doped AlN samples could be densified at low temperatures of 1600-1700oC in 20-25 minutes. The AlN samples were characterized with homogeneous microstructure. The Y-Al-O compounds were created on the grain boundaries due to the reactions between Y2O3 and Al2O3 on AlN particle surface. With increasing the sintering temperature, AlN grains grew up, and the location of grain boundaries as well as the phase compositions changed. The Y/Al ratio in the aluminates increased, from Y3Al5O12 to YAlO3 and to Y4Al2O9. High-density, the growth of AlN grains and the homogenous dispersion of boundary phase were helpful to improve the thermal conductivity of AlN ceramics. The thermal conductivity of 122Wm-1K-1 for the 4.0 mass%Y2O3-doped AlN sample was reached.