Morphology, chemistry and microstructure of zirconia and alumina based ceramic powders synthesized by microwave plasma pyrolysis were studied by transmission electron microscopy. Electron diffraction was used to determine the phases present, while conventional bright field and dark field imaging were used to characterize grain size and density variations. Materials analyzed in this study were either pure zirconia, pure alumina, or a ternary zirconia-yttria-alumina oxide. Solid spheres, hollow spheres, and fragments of hollow spheres were observed. All three modifications of zirconia were observed in the pure zirconia powder. In alumina, the predominant phase was cubic, gamma alumina. In the ternary oxide, most structures exhibited cubic zirconia diffraction patterns. Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy revealed chemical inhomogeneities in the ternary oxide powder.