Abstract A two-phase, mass-transport model for liquid-feed direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) is developed by taking into account the effect of non-equilibrium evaporation and condensation of methanol and water. The comparison between the present model and other models indicates that the present model yields more reasonable predictions of cell performance. Particularly, it is shown that the models that invoke a thermodynamic-equilibrium assumption between phases will overestimate mass-transport rates of methanol and water, thereby resulting in an inaccurate prediction of cell performance. The parametric study using the present model reveals that the gas coverage at the flow channel–diffusion-layer interface is directly related to the gas-void fraction inside the anode porous region; increasing the gas-void fraction will increase the mass-transfer resistance of methanol and thus lower cell performance. The effects of the geometric dimensions of the cell structure, such as channel width and rib width, on cell performance are also investigated with the model developed in this work.