ZnO nanorods were grown by catalyst-assisted vapor phase transport on Si(001), GaN(0001)/c-Al2O3, and bulk ZnO(0001) substrates. Morphology studies showed that ZnO nanorods grew mostly perpendicular to the GaN substrate surface, whereas a more random directional distribution was found for nanorods on Si. Optical properties of fabricated nanorods were studied by steady-state photoluminescence and time-resolved photoluminescence. Stimulated emission was observed from ZnO nanorods on GaN substrates. Raman spectroscopy revealed biaxial strain in the nanorod samples grown on Si. Conductive atomic force microscopy was applied to study I-V spectra of individual nanorods.