H2O2 is a valuable, environmentally friendly oxidizing agent, with a wide range of uses, from the provision of clean water to the synthesis of valuable chemicals. The on-site electrolytic production of H2O2 would bring the chemical to applications beyond its present reach. The successful commercialization of electrochemical H2O2 production requires cathode catalysts with high activity, selectivity and stability. In this Perspective, we highlight our current understanding of the factors that control the cathode performance. We review the influence of catalyst material, electrolyte and the structure of the interface at the mesoscopic scale. We provide original theoretical data on the role of the geometry of the active site and its influence on activity and selectivity. We have also conducted a series of original experiments on (i) the effect of pH on H2O2 production on glassy carbon, pure metals, and metal-mercury alloys, and (ii) the influence of cell geometry and mass transport in liquid half-cells in comparison to membrane electrode assemblies.