The solution structures of highly active Ir water-oxidation catalysts are elucidated by combining density functional theory, high-energy X-ray scattering (HEXS), and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy. We find that the catalysts are Ir dimers with mono-μ-O cores and terminal anionic ligands, generated in situ through partial oxidation of a common catalyst precursor. The proposed structures are supported by (1)H and (17)O NMR, EPR, resonance Raman and UV-vis spectra, electrophoresis, etc. Our findings are particularly valuable to understand the mechanism of water oxidation by highly reactive Ir catalysts. Importantly, our DFT-EXAFS-HEXS methodology provides a new in situ technique for characterization of active species in catalytic systems.