Spherical-aberration-corrected environmental transmission electron microscopy (AC-ETEM) was applied to study the catalytic activity of platinum/amorphous carbon electrode catalysts in proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). These electrode catalysts were characterized in different atmospheres, such as hydrogen and air, and a conventional high vacuum of 10 -5 Pa. A high-speed charge coupled device camera was used to capture real-time movies to dynamically study the diffusion and reconstruction of nanoparticles with an information transfer down to 0.1 nm, a time resolution below 0.2 s and an acceleration voltage of 300 kV. With such high spatial and time resolution, AC-ETEM permits the visualization of surface-atom behaviour that dominates the coalescence and surface-reconstruction processes of the nanoparticles. To contribute to the development of robust PEMFC platinum/amorphous carbon electrode catalysts, the change in the specific surface area of platinum particles was evaluated in hydrogen and air atmospheres. The deactivation of such catalysts during cycle operation is a serious problem that must be resolved for the practical use of PEMFCs in real vehicles. In this paper, the mechanism for the deactivation of platinum/amorphous carbon electrode catalysts is discussed using the decay rate of the specific surface area of platinum particles, measured first in a vacuum and then in hydrogen and air atmospheres for comparison.