Nanocrystalline tetragonal zirconia was obtained from ZrOCl2 via the modified forced hydrolysis method combined with aging of the hydrous amorphous precipitate in the mother liquor at 100 °C for 48 h (pH = 9.3). The role of the precipitation and aging temperatures in the metastabilization of the tetragonal ZrO2 polymorph is discussed in terms of the structural and textural data of the resultant oxide. The influence of low concentrations of silica (0.01 – 0.35 wt. % Si), spontaneously leached from the glass vessel or intentionally introduced to the parent solution, was shown to be a vital factor, controlling the phase composition of the final prepared zirconia. Using the concepts of zirconium aquatic chemistry, this effect was explained by incorporation of silicates into hydrous zirconia protostructures.