Beaklike SnO2 nanorods were synthesized by a vapor-liquid-solid approach using Au as a catalyst. The nanorods grow along the [10 (1) over bar] direction and the beak is formed by switching the growth direction to [1 (1) over bar(2) over bar] through controlling the growth conditions at the end of the synthesis. The photoluminescence (PL) spectrum of the nanorods exhibits visible light emission with a peak at 602 nm. The field-emission (FE) properties of the nanorods have been measured to exhibit a turn-on field of 5.8 V mu m(-1). A comparative study of FE measurements between SnO2 nanorods with uniform diameters and these beaklike nanorods suggests that the shape and curved tips are important factors in determining the FE properties.