Well-defined ZnO and ZnO: La nanorods have been successfully fabricated by a low temperature hyderthermal process. The XRD patterns of both compositions with single diffraction peak (002) show the same wurtzite hexagonal structure. The radius of ZnO: La nanorods observed by FE-SEM is smaller than that of pure ZnO indicating the inhibition of growth rate by the doping of La. Photoluminescence spectra show an enhancement of the luminescence intensity in green-yellow region by the dopant La. Ferromagnetism is observed from the results of magnetization measurement. The increase of the saturation magnetization reveals an association with the increase of oxygen vacancies induced by the doping of the La in the nanorods.