While oxygen is typically considered undesirable during the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of graphene on metal substrates, we demonstrate that suitable amounts of oxygen in the CVD system can in fact improve the uniformity and thickness control of the graphene film. The role of oxygen on the CVD of graphene on a nickel substrate using a propylene precursor was investigated with various surface analytical techniques. It was found that the number of carbon layers in the deposited graphene sample decreases as the concentration of oxygen increases. In particular, single-layer graphene can be easily obtained with an oxygen/propylene ratio of 1/9. In the presence of oxygen, a thin layer of nickel oxide will form on the substrate. The oxide layer decreases the concentration of carbon atoms dissolved in the nickel substrate and results in graphene samples with a decreasing number of carbon layers.