ZnO nanomaterials with controlled size, shape and surface chemistry are required for applications in diverse areas, such as optoelectronics, photocatalysis, biomedicine and so on. Here, we report on ZnO nanostructures with rod-like and spherical shapes prepared via laser ablation in liquid using a laser with millisecond-long pulses. By changing laser parameters (such as pulse width and peak power), the size or aspect ratio of such nanostructures could be tuned. The surface chemistry and defects of the products were also strongly affected by applied laser conditions. The preparation of different structures is explained by the intense heating of liquid media caused by millisecond-long pulses and secondary irradiation of already-formed nanostructures.