A novel approach for synthesis of soluble semiconductor quantum rods using metal nanoparticles to direct and catalyze one-dimensional growth is developed. The method is useful in particular for III–V semiconductors with cubic lattice, where the utilization of surfactant-controlled rod-growth is not easily realized. The growth takes place via the solution–liquid–solid (SLS) mechanism where proper precursors are injected into a coordinating solvent. Centrifugation is used for separation of rod-fractions with different lengths. The reaction is demonstrated for InAs, InP and GaAs. Focusing on InAs rods as a model system, we examined the effects of the type of metal catalyst, and the tuning of reaction conditions with respect to temperature, concentration, catalyst content and reaction time. Within the three types of metal catalysts used—Au, Ag and In, Au was found to provide the best control for achieving rod-growth even though the melting point of bulk gold is significantly higher then the reaction temperature. The structural properties of the rods were characterized by transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Rods have a cubic lattice and grow mainly along the  direction. The relative gold content decreases in shorter rods suggesting Au depletion as a cause for limiting the growth. Room and low temperature absorption and photoluminescence measurements show that the band-gap shifts to the red upon increasing rod length revealing strong quantum confinement along the long axis in InAs rods, providing spectral coverage of the near-IR range relevant for telecommunication applications. Emission intensity also decreases with increased rod-length. These length dependent properties manifest the transition from 0D to 1D quantum confined systems.