Zinc oxide (ZnO) and diatomite-supported ZnO nanostructures were prepared using a direct precipitation and co-precipitation method, respectively. The morphologies of the prepared nanostructures were studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The surface charge of the samples was assessed by zeta potential measurements. The XRD results showed that the size of the prepared nanoparticles were 18 nm, which was consistent with TEM consequences. The FT-IR spectrum clearly indicated the formation of an interfacial chemical bond between Zn and O of prepared samples but ZnO characteristic peaks shifted to lower wave numbers at about 467 cm(-1) for diatomite-supported ZnO. Characterization exhibited that the ZnO particles were successfully distributed in the diatomite support. Prepared nanoparticles have potential for different applications owing to processing facility and more economical reagents. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd and Techna Group S.r.l. All rights reserved.