Abstract Graphene oxide nanoplatelets (GONPs) are presented as electrochemical active materials for VO 2+/ VO 2 + and V 2+/V 3+ redox couples for a vanadium redox flow battery. The structures and electrochemical properties of GONPs treated at different temperatures were investigated by transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry. The results indicate that GONPs treated at 50 °C (GONP-50) possess highly hydroxylated and carboxylated groups and exhibit an excellent electrocatalytic activity towards VO 2+/ VO 2 + and V 2+/V 3+ redox couples, while the pristine graphite only shows a reversible electrocatalytic activity towards VO 2+/ VO 2 + , suggesting that the V 2+/V 3+ redox reaction more strongly depends on the oxygen-containing groups attached on graphite surface than does the VO 2+/ VO 2 + . With the increase of treatment temperature, the polarization is reduced significantly. GONPs treated at 120 °C (GNOP-120) exhibit a lower electrochemical polarization than that of GONP-50 because of relatively higher electrical conductivity despite moderate electrocatalytic activity. The diffusion of VO 2+ is faster on the surface of GONP-50 than on the pristine graphite and GNOP-120.