Nanosized ZrO 2 powders with near pure monoclinic, tetragonal, and cubic structures synthesized by various methods were used as catalysts for photocatalytic degradation of methyl orange. The structural and textural properties of the samples were analyzed by X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, TEM, UV-vis, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and N 2 adsorption measurements. The performance of synthesized ZrO 2 nanoparticles in the photocatalytic degradation of methyl orange under UV light irradiation was evaluated. The photocatalytic activity of the pure monoclinic ZrO 2 sample is higher than that of the tetragonal and cubic ZrO 2 samples under optimum identical conditions. The characterization results revealed that monoclinic ZrO 2 nanoparticles possessed high crystallinity and mesopores with diameter of 100 Å. The higher activity of the monoclinic ZrO 2 sample for the photocatalytic degradation of methyl orange can be attributed to the combining effects of factors including the presence of small amount of oxygen-deficient zirconium oxide phase, high crystallinity, large pores, and high density of surface hydroxyl groups.