A method of making a membrane-electrode-assembly (MEA) for a PEM/SPE fuel cell comprising applying a slurry of electrode-forming material directly onto a membrane-electrolyte film. The slurry comprises a liquid vehicle carrying catalyst particles and a binder for the catalyst particles. The membrane-electrolyte is preswollen by contact with the vehicle before the electrode-forming slurry is applied to the membrane-electrolyte. The swollen membrane-electrolyte is constrained against shrinking in the "x" and "y" directions during drying. Following assembly of the fuel cell, the MEA is rehydrated inside the fuel cell such that it swells in the "z" direction for enhanced electrical contact with contiguous electrically conductive components of the fuel cell.