This paper provides an insight into the effect of particle size of elemental metal powders and carbon source on the formation mechanism of Ti2AlC MAX-phase ceramic produced by self-propagating high-temperature synthesis (SHS). The effect of titanium, aluminium and carbon particle size on the 2Ti+Al+C→Ti2AlC reaction, the phase evolution of the final product and the porosity in both the green body and product has been examined. The effect of the carbon source in the form of graphite, carbon black and short carbon fibres on the reaction mechanism is explained. It is found that the particle size of the titanium and aluminium reactants had little effect on the phases formed but affected the green density of the reactants and the porosity in the final product. The carbon source used in the combustion reaction had an influence on the phases formed by the SHS reaction and was influenced by the dispersion of carbon particles and the titanium-aluminium particle contact.