Improving both the activity and the stability of the cathode catalyst in platinum-based polymer electrolyte fuel cells is a key technical challenge. Here, we synthesize a high surface area meso-structured Pt thin film that exhibits higher specific activity for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) than commercial carbon-supported Pt nanoparticles (Pt/C). An accelerated stability test demonstrates that the meso-structured Pt thin film also displays significantly enhanced stability as compared to the commercial Pt/C catalyst. Our study reveals the origin of the high turnover frequency (TOF), and excellent durability is attributed to the meso-structure, which yields a morphology with fewer undercoordinated Pt sites than Pt/C nanoparticles, a key difference with substantial impact to the surface chemistry. The improved catalyst activity and stability could enable the development of a high-performance gas diffusion electrode that is resistant to corrosion even under the harsh conditions of start-up, shut-down, and/or hydrogen starvation.