Two different synthesis methods, viz. precipitation and hydrothermal treatment, were used to synthesise ultra-fine α-alumina powders from aluminium chloride, ammonia solution and TEAH (tetraethyl ammonium hydroxide). XRD, BET surface area analysis, TEM and FEG-SEM were used to characterise the powders produced. The presence of industrial α-alumina powder as seed particles did not affect the transformation to α-alumina phase during the hydrothermal treatment at 220 °C, either in basic or acidic environments. The results obtained from the precipitation route, however, showed that the combined effect of adding α-alumina seeds and surfactants to the precursor solution could lower the transformation temperature of α-alumina from about 1200 °C for unseeded samples to about 800 °C, as well as reducing the level of agglomeration in the alumina powders. The difference in transformation temperature mainly results from the nucleation process caused by the α-alumina seeds, which enhanced the θ→α transformation kinetics. The lower level of agglomeration present in the final powders could be due to a surface modifying role of the surfactants, preventing the particles from coalescing during the synthesis process.