The evolution of nanostructure in sol¿gel derived lead zirconate titanate (PZT) and zirconia precursor sols at different hydrolysis ratios was investigated by small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The shape of the clusters in the zirconia sol could be described by the length-polydisperse cylindrical form factor. The zirconia-based clusters were characterized by a cross-sectional radius, r0, of 0.28 nm and a practically monodisperse length of ca. 1.85 nm. These clusters were probably constructed of zirconia-related tetrameric building blocks. Similar cylindrical structural motifs were observed in PZT precursor sols with [H2O]/[Zr + Ti] = 9.26 and 27.6, but the polydispersity in length was much higher. Clear scattering contributions from Ti and Pb centers were not detected, which was interpreted in terms of a homogeneous distribution of unbound lead ions in solution and the relatively low scattering intensity from any Ti-based clusters or oligomers that may have been present in the sols.