Nanocrystalline lead zirconate titanate (PZT) and lead lanthanum zirconate titanate (PLZT) have been synthesized in powder form by a single-step auto-ignition of metal–polymer gel precursor. The nanocrystalline powders were characterized using analytical transmission electron microscopy (TEM) equipped with an energy-dispersive x-ray spectrometer (EDXS) for composition analysis. For both PZT and PLZT, nanoparticles of sizes as low as 1–5 nm along with larger nanoparticles of sizes up to 30 nm are observed in the TEM. The selected-area diffraction (SAD) patterns from the nanoparticles revealed a face-centered cubic (fcc) crystal structure for both PZT and PLZT with a lattice parameter of ∼0.51 nm. The formation of PZT and PLZT nanoparticles of sizes below 5 nm with metastable fcc crystal structure has been observed for the first time. It is concluded that, as the crystal size decreases, the system assumes crystal structures of higher symmetry initially through small changes in lattice parameters and, in extreme cases, through chemical disorder for ultrafine nanoparticles.