We report a mask-free technique for the local synthesis of ZnO nanowires (NWs) on polysilicon nanobelts and polysilicon NW devices. First, we used localized joule heating to generate a poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) nanotemplate, allowing the rapid and self-aligned ablation of PMMA within a short period of time (ca. 5 μs). Next, we used ion-beam sputtering to prepare an ultrathin Au film and a ZnO seed layer; a subsequent lift-off process left the seed layers selectively within the PMMA nanotemplate. Gold nanoparticles and ZnO NWs were formed selectively in the localized joule heating region.