Aqueous-phase electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide requires an active, earth-abundant electrocatalyst, as well as highly efficient mass transport. Here we report the design of a porous hollow fibre copper electrode with a compact three-dimensional geometry, which provides a large area, three-phase boundary for gas–liquid reactions. The performance of the copper electrode is significantly enhanced; at overpotentials between 200 and 400 mV, faradaic efficiencies for carbon dioxide reduction up to 85% are obtained. Moreover, the carbon monoxide formation rate is at least one order of magnitude larger when compared with state-of-the-art nanocrystalline copper electrodes. Copper hollow fibre electrodes can be prepared via a facile method that is compatible with existing large-scale production processes. The results of this study may inspire the development of new types of microtubular electrodes for electrochemical processes in which at least one gas-phase reactant is involved, such as in fuel cell technology.