Single-crystalline GaN nanorods are formed on a sapphire substrate by hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE). Their structural and optical properties are investigated by x-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and cathodoluminescence (CL) techniques. The high density of straight and well-aligned nanorods with a diameter of 80–120 nm formed uniformly over the entire 2 in. sapphire substrate. The x-ray diffraction patterns and transmission electron microscopic images indicate that the formed GaN nanorods are a pure single crystal and preferentially oriented in the c-axis direction. We observed a higher CL peak position of individual GaN nanorods than that of bulk GaN as well as a blueshift of CL peak position with decreasing the diameter of GaN nanorods, which are attributed to quantum confinement effect in one-dimensional GaN nanorods. We demonstrate that the well-aligned, single-crystalline GaN nanorods with high density, high crystal quality, and good spatial uniformity are formed by the HVPE method. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.