In this study, carbon-supported Pt-based catalysts, including PtRu, PtRh, and PtRuRh nanorods (NRs), were prepared by the formic acid reduction method for ethanol oxidation reaction (EOR) application. The aspect ratio of all experimental NRs is 4.6. The X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and H2-temperature-programmed reduction results confirm that the ternary PtRuRh has oxygen-containing species (OCS), including PtOx, RuOx and RhOx, on its surface and shows high EOR current density at 0.6 V. The corresponding physical structure results indicate that the surface OCS can enhance the adsorption of ethanol through bi-functional mechanism and thereby promote the EOR activity. On the other hand, the chronoamperometry (CA) results imply that the ternary PtRuRh has the highest mass activity, specific activity, and stability among all catalysts. The aforementioned pieces of evidence reveal that the presence of OCS facilitates the oxidation of adsorbed intermediates, such as CO or CHx, which prevents the Pt active sites from poisoning and thus simultaneously improves the current density and durability of PtRuRh NRs in EOR.