Reduced graphene oxide (rGO) has shown great promise as an air-cathode for Li-air batteries with high capacity. In this article we demonstrate how the oxidation time of graphene oxide (GO) affects the ratio of different functional groups and how trends of these in GO are extended to chemically and thermally reduced GO. We investigate how differences in functional groups and synthesis may affect the performance of Li-O-2 batteries. The oxidation timescale of the GO was varied between 30 min and 3 days before reduction. Powder Xray diffraction, micro-Raman, FE-SEM, BET analysis, and XPS were used to characterize the GO's and rGO's. Selected samples of GO and rGO were analyzed by solid state C-13 MAS NMR. These methods highlighted the difference between the two types of rGO's, and XPS indicated how the chemical trends in GO are extended to rGO. A comparison between XPS and C-13 MAS NMR showed that both techniques can enhance the structural understanding of rGO. Different rGO cathodes were tested in Li-O-2 batteries which revealed a difference in overpotentials and discharge capacities for the different rGO's. We report the highest Li-O-2 battery discharge capacity recorded of approximately 60,000 mAh/gcarbon achieved with a thermally reduced GO cathode. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.