Nanostructured materials have attracted considerable interest in recent years due to their properties which differ strongly from their bulk phase and potential applications in nanoscale electronic and optoelectronic devices. Metal oxide nanostructures can be synthesized by variety of different synthesis techniques developed in recent years such as thermal decomposition, sol-gel technique, chemical coprecipitation, hydrothermal process, solvothermal process, spray pyrolysis, polyol process etc. All the above processes go through a tedious synthesis procedure followed by prolonged heat treatment at elevated temperature and are time consuming. In the present work we describe a rapid microwave irradiation-assisted chemical synthesis technique for the growth of nanoparticles, nanorods, and nanotubes of a variety of metal oxides in the presence of an appropriate surfactant, without the use of any templates The method is simple, inexpensive, and helps one to prepare nanostructures in a very simple way, and in a very short time, measured in minutes. The synthesis procedure employs high quality metalorganic complexes (typically -diketonates) featuring a direct metal-to-oxygen bond in its molecular structure. The complex is dissolved in a suitable solvent, often with a surfactant added, and the solution then subjected to microwave irradiation in a domestic microwave oven operating at 2.45 GHz frequency with power varying from 160-800 W, from a few seconds to a few minutes, leading to the formation of corresponding metal oxides. This method has been used successfully to synthesize nanostructures of a variety of binary and ternary metal oxides such as ZnO, CdO, Fe2O3, CuO, Ga2O3, Gd2O3, ZnFe2O4, etc. There is an observed variation in the morphology of the nanostructures with the change of different parameters such as microwave power, irradiation time, appropriate solvent, surfactant type and concentration. Cationic, anionic, nonionic and polymeric surfactants have been used to generate a variety of nanostructures. Even so, to remove the surfactant, there is either no need of heat treatment or a very brief exposure to heat suffices, to yield highly pure and crystalline oxide materials as prepared. By adducting the metal complexes, the shape of the nanostructures can be controlled further. In this manner, very well formed, single-crystalline, hexagonal nanorods and nanotubes of ZnO have been formed. Adducting the zinc complex leads to the formation of tapered ZnO nanorods with a very fine tip, suitable for electron emission applications. Particle size and their monodispersity can be controlled by a suitable choice of a precursor complex, the surfactant, and its concentration. The resulting metal oxide nanostructures have been characterized by X-ray diffraction, field emission scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, FTIR spectroscopy, photoluminescence, and electron emission measurements.