Research programs are being conducted worldwide to develop a clean, zero emissions electric vehicle. However, even with the most advanced batteries, such as nickel/metal hydride, or lithium ion batteries, the driving range is limited and the recharging time is long. Only fuel cells which can convert chemical energy directly into electrical energy can compete with internal combustion engines. This paper reviewed the recent progress made in the development of a direct methanol fuel cell using the concept developed for the proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). It was noted that the electrode materials, at the methanol anode and oxygen cathode need to be improved by using multifunctional electrocatalysts. The development of new temperature resistant proton exchange membranes with good ionic conductivity and low methanol cross-over, which resulted from the need to increase operating temperatures above 100 degrees C was also reviewed. 35 refs., 1 tab., 2 figs.