Lithium-sulfur batteries have been plagued for a long time by low Coulombic efficiency, fast capacity loss, and poor high rate performance. Here, the synthesis of 3D hyperbranched hollow carbon nanorod encapsulated sulfur nanocomposites as cathode materials for lithium-sulfur batteries is reported. The sulfur nanocomposite cathodes deliver a high specific capacity of 1378 mAh g-1 at a 0.1C current rate and exhibit stable cycling performance. The as-prepared sulfur nanocomposites also achieve excellent high rate capacities and cyclability, such as 990 mAh g-1 at 1C, 861 mAh g -1 at 5C, and 663 mAh g-1 at 10C, extending to more than 500 cycles. The superior electrochemical performance are ascribed to the unique 3D hyperbranched hollow carbon nanorod architectures and high length/radius aspect ratio of the carbon nanorods, which can effectively prevent the dissolution of polysulfides, decrease self-discharge, and confine the volume expansion on cycling. High capacity, excellent high-rate performance, and long cycle life render the as-developed sulfur/carbon nanorod nanocomposites a promising cathode material for lithium-sulfur batteries. 3D hyperbranched carbon nanorod-sulfur nanocomposites are synthesized and applied as cathode materials for lithium-sulfur batteries. The composite materials deliver high specific capacity, excellent high rate capability, and extended cycle life. The superior performance is attributed to the nanomaze architecture and high aspect ratio of carbon nanorods, which suppress the dissolution of polysulfides and confine volume expansion. © 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.