Novel hierarchical ZnO nanostructures, porous ZnO nanobelts, and nanoparticle chains are prepared from a precursor of synthetic bilayered basic zinc acetate (BLBZA) nanobelts. BLBZA nanobelts are obtained by a simple synthetic route under mild conditions. X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and thermal analysis are used to characterize the BLBZA nanobelts and ZnO nanostructures. The obtained BLBZA precursor consists of a lamellar structure with two interlayer distances of 1.33 and 2.03 nm, exhibits a beltlike morphology, and has widths of 200 to 600 nm, thicknesses of 10 to 50 nm, and lengths of up to 50 μm. Refluxing an aqueous dispersion of BLBZA nanobelts at 120 °C for 12 h leads to the formation of well-defined hierarchical ZnO nanostructures. The time-dependent shape-evolution process suggests that spindlelike ZnO particles form first, and then the ringlike nanosheets grow heterogeneously on the backbone of these spindles. In addition, calcination in air can remove ligand molecules and intercalated water molecules from BLBZA nanobelts, resulting in the formation of porous ZnO nanobelts and nanoparticle chains. The BLBZA nanobelts serve as templates during the transformation to form ZnO beltlike nanoparticle chains without morphological deformation. Photoluminescence results show that both the as-synthesized hierarchical ZnO nanostructures and porous ZnO nanobelts show a narrow and sharp UV emission at 390 nm and a broad blue–green emission at above 466 nm when excited by UV light.