The activities of different types of PtRu catalysts for methanol oxidation are compared. Materials used were: UHV-cleaned PtRu alloys, UHV-evaporated Ru onto Pt(111) as well as adsorbed Ru on Pt(111) prepared with and without additional reduction by hydrogen. Differences in the catalytic activity are observed to depend on the preparation procedure of the catalysts. The dependence of the respective catalytic activities upon the surface composition is reported. UHV-STM data for Pt(111)/Ru show the formation of two- and three-dimensional structures depending on surface coverage. A molecular insight on the electrochemical reaction is given via in situ infrared spectroscopy. Analysis of the data indicates that the most probable rate-determining step is the reaction of adsorbed CO with Ru oxide.