Fine powders of zirconia were prepared by employing combustion method with varying fuel to precursor molar ratios. The zirconia powders contained more amount of monoclinic phase as the fuel content was increased. This aspect was studied using XRD, IR and UV-vis diffuse reflectance techniques. The surface acid-base properties of these samples were also investigated by indicator titration method. The catalytic activity was probed with transfer hydrogenation reaction in liquid phase. It was found that combustion synthesized zirconia did not provide required active sites for transfer hydrogenation reactions in liquid phase unlike hydrous zirconia.