The fabrication of ultrathin single-crystal Au nanowires with high aspect ratio and that are stable in air is challenging. Recently, a simple wet-chemical approach using oleylamine has been reported for the synthesis of Au nanowires with micrometer length and 2 nm in diameter. Despite efforts to understand the mechanism of the reaction, an ultimate question about the role of oxygen (O2) during the synthesis remained unclear. Here we report that the synthesis of ultrathin Au nanowires employing oleylamine is strongly affected by the amount of O2 absorbed in the reaction solution. Saturating the solution with O2 leads to both a high-yield production of nanowires and an increase in their length. Nanowires with diameters of about 2 nm and lengths of 8 μm, which corresponds to an aspect ratio of approximately 4000, were produced. The role of oxygen is attributed to the enhanced oxidation of twin defects on Au nanoparticles formed in the first stage of the reaction. Understanding the role of oxidative etching is crucial to significantly increasing the yield and the length of ultrathin Au nanowires.