This thesis investigates the mechanisms driving the formation, the en-hanced activity for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and the dura-bility of porous hollow PtM/C nanoparticles (NPs) for proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) applications. The formation and growth of the NPs, synthesized by a ‘one-pot’ process, were discussed in the light of microscopic, in operando X-ray and electronic measurements, unveiling the different intermediate steps of the synthesis. The synthe-sis process was extended to different non-noble metals (M = Ni, Co, Cu, Zn and Fe) and to different carbon supports. The enhanced activity for the ORR resulted from (i) the contraction of the lattice parameter by the non-noble metal (the final NPs contains ca. 15 – 20 at. % of M), (ii) the open porosity and (iii) the density of structural defects at the surface of the NPs, rationalized by COads stripping measurments and Rietveld analysis. The non-noble metal was found to segregate faster than the structural defects during the accelerated stress tests.