ZnO nanorods were grown on SiO2/Si substrates by a sol-gel method at low temperatures of around T=95 degreesC. The diameters and the lengths of ZnO nanorods increased at high concentrations of zinc nitrate hexahydrate and methenamine solution. Current-voltage characteristics of the ZnO nanorods network followed a typical nonlinear behavior with significant photoresponse below lambda<400 nm in air, and the conductance was enhanced in vacuum with negligible photoresponse. In photoluminescence (PL) and photocurrent (PC) spectra, the PL peak (lambda(peak)=380 nm and 3.26 eV) did not match the PC edge (lambda(edge)=400 nm and 3.1 eV), indicating the nondirect band-gap transition in photocurrent. The origin of the photocurrent was discussed from the point of the influence of the desorption of adsorbed water molecules on the surface or inside the ZnO nanorods. (C) 2004 American Institute of Physics.