Degradation is one of the most critical issues that hinder the commercialization of fuel cells. The experimental investigations of direct methanol fuel cell degradation are complicated by the presence of a temporary contribution that can be recovered adopting suitable operating strategies. In the present work, a methodology to distinguish temporary and permanent degradation is proposed. The capability of different operating strategies to mitigate temporary degradation is evaluated. A strategy, consisting in refresh cycles involving open circuit voltage and cathode air interruption, able to minimize temporary degradation and reduce permanent degradation, is identified and compared with steady-state operation. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.