Preparing high-quality graphene through reduction of graphene oxide (GO) by oxalic acid is demonstrated in this paper. Transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectrometry, X-ray diffraction and Raman spectrometry were taken to confirm the reduction of GO and the formation of graphene under these mild conditions. Thermogravimetric analysis and conductivity measurements further testify the excellent thermal stability and conductivity of the obtained graphene. A possible mechanism for the reduction process was also proposed. Furthermore, a Pt–graphene composite was fabricated on a glassy carbon electrode and excellent electrocatalytic activity towards methanol oxidation was observed. With advantages of low toxicity, simple purification process and high quality of the product, oxalic acid provides a feasible route to prepare graphene from GO under mild conditions, thus facilitating the use of graphene-based materials for large-scale applications.