Zinc oxide (ZnO) and alumina (Al2O3) particles are synthesized by the combustion of their volatilized acetylacetonate precursors in a premixed air-methane flame reactor. The particles are characterized by XRD, transmission electron microscopy, scanning mobility particle sizing and by measurement of the BET specific surface area. Pure (γ-)alumina particles appear as dendritic aggregates with average mobile diameter 43-93 nm consisting of partly sintered, crystalline primary particles with diameter 7.1-8.8 nm and specific surface area 184-229 m2/g. Pure zinc oxide yields compact, crystalline particles with diameter 25-40 nm and specific surface area 27-43 m2/g. The crystallite size for both oxides, estimated from the XRD line broadening, is comparable to or slightly smaller than the primary particle diameter. The specific surface area increases and the primary particle size decreases with a decreasing flame temperature and a decreasing precursor vapour pressure. The combustion of precursor mixtures leads to composite particles consisting of zinc aluminate ZnAl2O4 intermixed with either ZnO or Al2O3 phases. The zinc aluminate particles are dendritic aggregates, resembling the alumina particles, and are evidently synthesized to the full extent allowed by the overall precursor composition. The addition of even small amounts of alumina to ZnO increases the specific surface area of the composites significantly, for e.g. zinc aluminate particles to approximately 150 m2/g. The gas-to-particle conversion is initiated by the fast nucleation of Al2O3 or ZnAl2O4, succeeded by a more gradual condensation of the excess ZnO with a rate probably controlled by the cooling rate for the flame.