Well-defined synthesis conditions of high quality MFe 2O 4 (M = Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Zn, and Cu) spinel ferrite magnetic nanoparticles, with diameters below 10 nm, have been described based on facile and efficient one-pot solvothermal or microwave-assisted heating procedures. Both methods are reproducible and scalable and allow forming concentrated stable colloidal solutions in polar solvents, but microwave-assisted heating allows reducing 15 times the required annealing time and leads to an enhanced monodispersity of the nanoparticles. Non-agglomerated nanoparticles dispersions have been achieved using a simple one-pot approach where a single compound, triethyleneglycol, behaves at the same time as solvent and capping ligand. A narrow nanoparticle size distribution and high quality crystallinity have been achieved through selected nucleation and growth conditions. High resolution transmission electron microscopy images and electron energy loss spectroscopy analysis confirm the expected structure and composition and show that similar crystal faceting has been formed in both synthetic approaches. The spinel nanoparticles behave as ferrimagnets with a high saturation magnetization and are superparamagnetic at room temperature. The influence of synthesis route on phase purity and unconventional magnetic properties is discussed in some particular cases such as CuFe 2O 4, CoFe 2O 4, and ZnFe 2O 4. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.