Three types of Ag-coated arrays from porous anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) were prepared and studied as substrates for surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). They were compared with Ag-coated porous silicon (PSi) samples. AAO-based substrates were prepared by the vapor deposition of silver directly onto the surface of porous AAO with different morphologies of the pores, whereas SERS-active island films on the PSi were prepared by immersion plating. The resulting metallic nanostructures were characterized by UV-vis absorption spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Thermal evaporation leads to the formation of granular arrays of Ag nanoparticles on the surface of AAO. SERS activity of the substrates was tested using water-soluble cationic Zn(II)-tetrakis (4-N-methylpyridyl) porphyrin (ZnTMPyP4) as a probe molecule. The results indicate that all AAO-based substrates studied here exhibit some degree of SERS activity. Noteworthy, for excitation at 532 nm, signals from AAO-based substrates were comparable with those from the PSi-based ones, whereas for 441.6 nm excitation they were about twice higher. The strongest SERS-enhancement at 441.6 nm excitationwas provided by the AAO substrates with silver deposited on the monolith (originally nonporous) side of AAO. Preferential SERS-enhancement of the bands ascribed to the vibrations of the N-methylpyridinium group of ZnTMPyP4 when going to blue excitation was found. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.