Zirconia fine particles were synthesized by thermal and hydrothermal decomposition of zirconium tetra-tert-butoxide in an externally heated tube flow reactor with two inlet section arrangements - long or short inlet nozzle. Particle production and characteristics were studied in dependence on reactor temperature, precursor concentration, and flow rates through the reactor and the nozzle. Particle production was investigated by scanning mobility particle sizer, morphology of particles by scanning/transmission electron microscopy, crystallinity by X-ray diffraction and selected area electron diffraction and composition of particles by energy dispersive spectroscopy. The particle production and morphology were affected most of all by the chemistry of precursor decomposition and the inlet section arrangement. The influence of remaining parameters was less significant. Particle formation mechanisms in the reactor volume and on the reactor and nozzle walls are also discussed.