Four types of boron nitride (BN) nanotubes are selectively synthesized by annealing porous precursor in flowing NH3 and NH3/H2 atmosphere at temperature ranging from 1000 to 1200°C in a vertical furnace. The as-synthesized BN nanotubes, including cylinder, wave, bamboo and bubble-chain, are characterized by scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Selectivity of BN nanotubes is estimated as approximately 80 to 95%. The porous precursor B31Fe17(MgO)27 prepared by self-propagation high-temperature synthesis (SHS) method plays a key role in controllable synthesis of the as-grown BN nanotubes. The chemical reaction and annealing mechanism are also discussed.