The growth of ZnO nanorods on a flat substrate containing γ-irradiated seeds and their ability to photocatalytically eliminate bacteria in water were studied. The seed layer was obtained, by the spray pyrolysis technique, from zinc acetate solutions γ-irradiated within the range from 0 to 100. kGy. Subsequently, to grow the rods, the seeds were immersed in a basic solution of zinc nitrate maintained at 90 °C. The rate of crystal growth on the seed layer during the thermal bath treatment was kept constant.The resulting materials were characterized morphologically by scanning electron and atomic force microscopies; X-ray diffraction was used to study their morphology and structure and ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy to determine their absorbance. The obtained seed films were morphologically dependent on the radiation dose and this was correlated with the ZnO nanorod films which presented a texture in the (0. 0. 2) direction perpendicular to the substrate. The rods have a hexagonal mean cross section between 20 and 140. nm. Using these rods, the photocatalytic degradation of Escherichia coli bacteria in water was studied; a positive influence of the crystalline texture on the degradation rate was observed. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.