Broad application of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) requires low cost and high operational sustainability. Microbial-cathode MFCs, or cathodes using only bacterial catalysts (biocathodes), can satisfy these demands and have gained considerable attention in recent years. Achievements with biocathodes over the past 3-4. years have been particularly impressive not only with respect to the biological aspects but also the system-wide considerations related to electrode materials and solution chemistry. The versatility of biocathodes enables us to use not only oxygen but also contaminants as possible electron acceptors, allowing nutrient removal and bioremediation in conjunction with electricity generation. Moreover, biocathodes create opportunities to convert electrical current into microbially generated reduced products. While many new experimental results with biocathodes have been reported, we are still in the infancy of their engineering development. This review highlights the opportunities, limits, and challenges of biocathodes. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.