In a microbial fuel cell (MFC) the reduction reaction at cathode has been a limiting factor in achieving maximum power density, and numerous strategies have been implemented in an attempt to overcome this. Herein, we demonstrate that carbon xerogel (CX) doped with iron (Fe) and nitrogen (N) followed by modification with graphene oxide (GO) is an efficient catalyst for MFCs. The CXFeNGO catalyst was characterized using a scanning electron microscope, and X-ray diffraction, and the catalytic activity was confirmed using cyclic voltammetry studies. At the anode, colonization of bacterial cells on the electrode surface, forming a biofilm, was observed. When the CXFeNGO-modified electrode was used at the cathode in the MFC, a maximum power density of 176.5 ± 6 mW m −2 was obtained, compared to that of plain graphite electrode, which produced 139.1 ± 4 mW m −2 . The power density of the modified electrode is thus 26.8% higher. The power density further increased to 48.6% when the pH of the catholyte was increased to 12, producing a power density of 207 ± 4 mW m −2 . © 2019 Elsevier Inc.