Single crystal alpha-MnO2 nanowires and nanopowders have been successfully synthesized in order to facilitate a comparison of their catalytic activity for use in Li-air batteries. The importance of the morphological modification of the alpha-MnO2 catalyst for facilitating electrochemical reactions between Li and O2 is addressed. Distinctive catalytic activity of alpha-MnO2 is observed, which is in line with its different morphologies. The catalytic activity significantly affects the reversible capacity of Li-air batteries. A high aspect ratio, large surface area and good dispersibility of alpha-MnO2 in the nanowire form are advantageous providing larger active surfaces for promoting the fundamental reactions in Li-air batteries. We also introduce a robustly designed air-electrode composed of highly porous carbon and nanostructured alpha-MnO2 catalysts, with employs a metal foam current collector to ensure sufficient air-permeability and to maximize electronic conduction during cycles. Our suggestions should prove helpful in forming a basis for further investigations in developing advanced Li-air batteries.