We demonstrate that synchrotron x-ray powder diffraction (XRD) is a powerful technique for studying the structure and self-organization of zinc-oxide nanostructures. Zinc-oxide nanorods were prepared by a solution-growth method that resulted in uniform nanorods with 2-nm diameter and lengths in the range 10–50 nm. These nanorods were structurally characterized by a combination of small-angle and wide-angle synchrotron XRD and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Small-angle XRD and TEM were used to investigate nanorod self-assembly and the influence of surfactant/precursor ratio on self-assembly. Wide-angle XRD was used to study the evolution of nanorod growth as a function of synthesis time and surfactant/precursor ratio.