In this work, dense arrays of pure and Pd doped zinc oxide (ZnO) nanorods (NRs) were fabricated by an electrochemical growth. Pure and Pd doped ZnO NRs were characterized via scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and optic spectroscopy. Structural studies confirmed that pure and doped ZnO NRs present the hexagonal wurtzite crystal structures. The optical properties of pure and doped ZnO NRs were found to present redshift by increasing doping concentration. The diameters of the NRs increase with increasing Pd doping concentration under same condition. Compared with pure ZnO NRs, the Pd doped ZnO NRs presents improved optical properties in terms of bandgap energy from 3.24 eV to 1.97 eV. These bandgap values were obtained by optical absorption using a UV-Visible spectrophotometer. In addition, Pd doping concentration in ZnO affects the active species on the surface such as oxygen deficiencies and hydroxyls. The electrochemically growing mechanism is also discussed in detail in the scope of this work. (C) 2015 The Electrochemical Society. All rights reserved.