The storage of electrical energy at high charge and discharge rate is an important technology in today's society, and can enable hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and provide back-up for wind and solar energy. It is typically believed that in electrochemical systems very high power rates can only be achieved with supercapacitors, which trade high power for low energy density as they only store energy by surface adsorption reactions of charged species on an electrode material1, 2, 3. Here we show that batteries4, 5 which obtain high energy density by storing charge in the bulk of a material can also achieve ultrahigh discharge rates, comparable to those of supercapacitors. We realize this in LiFePO4 (ref. 6), a material with high lithium bulk mobility7, 8, by creating a fast ion-conducting surface phase through controlled off-stoichiometry. A rate capability equivalent to full battery discharge in 10–20 s can be achieved.