One major challenge in the field of lithium-ion batteries is to understand the degradation mechanism of high-energy lithium- and manganese-rich layered cathode materials. Although they can deliver 30 % excess capacity compared with today’s commercially- used cathodes, the so-called voltage decay has been restricting their practical application. In order to unravel the nature of this phenomenon, we have investigated systematically the structural and compositional dependence of manganese-rich lithium insertion compounds on the lithium content provided during synthesis. Structural, electronic and electrochemical characterizations of LixNi0.2Mn0.6Oy with a wide range of lithium contents (0.00 ≤ x ≤ 1.52, 1.07 ≤ y < 2.4) and an analysis of the complexity in the synthesis pathways of monoclinic-layered Li[Li0.2Ni0.2Mn0.6]O2 oxide provide insight into the underlying processes that cause voltage fading in these cathode materials, i.e. transformation of the lithium-rich layered phase to a lithium-poor spinel phase via an intermediate lithium-containing rock-salt phase with release of lithium/oxygen.