As a new generation of power sources, fuel cells have shown great promise for application in transportation. However, the expensive catalyst materials, especially the cathode catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), severely limit the widespread commercialization of fuel cells. Therefore, this review article focuses on platinum (Pt)-based electrocatalysts for ORR with better catalytic performance and lower cost. Major breakthroughs in the improvement of activity and durability of electrocatalysts are discussed. Specifically, on one hand, the enhanced activity of Pt has been achieved through crystallographic control, ligand effect, or geometric effect; on the other hand, improved durability of Pt-based cathode catalysts has been realized by means of the incorporation of another noble metal or the morphological control of nanostructures. Furthermore, based on these improvement mechanisms, rationally designed Pt-based nanoparticles are summarized in terms of different synthetic strategies such as wet-chemical synthesis, Pt-skin catalysts, electrochemically dealloyed nanomaterials, and Pt-monolayer deposition. These nanoparticulate electrocatalysts show greatly enhanced catalytic performance towards ORR, aiming not only to outperform the commercial Pt/C, but also to exceed the US Department of Energy 2015 technical target ($30/kW and 5000 h).