A biologically inspired synthesis method is presented as a new tool for the design of novel electrochemically active materials, focusing on the advantages for fuel cell development. The need for cost-effective, high-performance materials is driving contemporary fuel cell research, with the expectation that advances in synthetic methods will be necessary for commercialization of this energy technology. Highly active electrocatalysts for proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) fuel cells are being developed, by combining a kinetically controlled synthesis method of the nanocrystalline metal catalyst with the mesoscale assembly of two morphologically different carbon building blocks of the supporting matrix. These methods provide access to new combinations of porosity, conductivity and electrochemical hydrogen oxidation. The relationships between the porous morphologies of the carbon matrices, the sizes of the platinum nanocrystals and their resulting electrochemical activities are discussed, correlating these with the relevant fuel cell principles.