Aromatization of light hydrocarbons can contribute to a secure supply of aromatics for the chemical industry. In this work, we investigate the influence of modification of zeolite ZSM-5 with Ga and Mo on the reaction mechanism underlying the activation and aromatization of ethane. Well-defined Mo/ZSM-5 and Ga/ZSM-5 zeolites efficiently promote ethane aromatization to benzene-toluene-xylene mixtures. Both catalysts suffer from coke formation, which leads to rapid deactivation. From catalytic tests, temperature-programmed surface reaction and pulsed reaction experiments, we infer that ethane conversion on Ga/ZSM-5 follows a conventional sequential dehydrogenation-oligomerization-aromatization mechanism, while the reaction over Mo/ZSM-5 involves reactive surface carbon (hydrocarbon pool) species.