Nanocrystalline ferrite with the composition: Mn0.6Zn0.4Fe2O4 was synthesized by two-stage route: the precipitation of Zn, Mn and Fe hydroxides from sulphates solution and the synthesis of a precursor by the sol–gel auto-combustion method. The ferrite powder obtained from the gel by ashing was sintered under air at a temperature of 720, 1150 and 1300 °C. The composition and morphology of the as-obtained phases were examined by ICP-AES, TG/DTA, XRD, FTIR, SEM and low-temperature nitrogen adsorption (BET). It was found that the spinel phase forms after gel combustion. The nanometric ferrite powder obtained as a result of the combustion is soft-agglomerated. The zinc content in the ferrite during ashing and auto-combustion is lower by about 21 mol% than the assumed one and the final product turn out to be Mn0.68Zn0.32Fe2O4.