A novel method of water management of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells using intermittent humidification is presented in this study. The goal is to maintain the membrane close to full humidification, while eliminating channel flooding. The entire cycle is divided into four stages: saturation and de-saturation of the gas diffusion layer followed by de-hydration and hydration of membrane. By controlling the duration of dry and humid flows, it is shown that the cell voltage can be maintained within a narrow band. The technique is applied on experimental test cells using both plain and hydrophobic materials for the gas diffusion layer and an improvement in performance as compared to steady humidification is demonstrated. Duration of dry and humid flows is determined experimentally for several operating conditions. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.