In order to obtain quasi one-dimensional nanostructures, various methods have been developed for the preparation and many mechanisms have been put forward such as VS (vapor-solid), VLS (vapor-liquid-solid), SLS (solid-liquid-solid), and so on. In present study, the zinc oxide one-dimensional nanostructures synthesized by carbon reduction route without catalyst isn’t controlled by the conventional VLS mechanism because that there is no droplet at the growth end of the nanostructures. By using a variety of growth times and the ratios of the zinc oxide and the activated carbon, it can be deduced that the liquid zinc island formed firstly and then the ZnO nanostructures growth on them. The morphologies and microstructures of samples were characterized by scanning electron microscope (SEM) observations, X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The structure characterization confirms that all the grown one-dimensional materials are hexagonal wurtzite ZnO.