Direct methanol fuel cells have the potential to power future microelectronic and portable electronic devices because of their high energy density. One of the major obstacles that currently prevent the widespread applications of direct methanol fuel cells is the methanol crossover through the polymer-electrolyte membrane. Methanol crossover is closely related to several factors including membrane structure and morphology, membrane thickness, and fuel cell operating conditions such as temperature, pressure, and methanol feed concentration. This work presents a comprehensive overview of the state-of-the-art technology for the most important factors, affecting methanol crossover in direct methanol fuel cells. In addition, the current and future directions of the research and development activities, aiming to reduce the methanol crossover are reviewed and discussed in order to improve the performance of direct methanol fuel cells. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.