Anisotropic silver nanoparticles (NPs) have been synthesized rapidly using microwave irradiation by the decomposition of silver oxalate in a glycol medium using polyvinyl pyrolidone (PVP) as the capping agent. The obtained Ag nanoparticles have been characterized by UV-visible spectroscopy, powder x-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and high-resolution TEM (HRTEM) studies. Anisotropic Ag nanoparticles of average size around 30 nm have been observed in the case of microwave irradiation for 75 s whereas spherical particles of a size around 5-6 nm are formed for 60 s of irradiation. The texture coefficient and particle size calculated from XRD patterns of anisotropic nanoparticles reveal the preferential orientation of (111) facets in the Ag sample. Ethylene glycol is found to be a more suitable medium than diethylene glycol. A plausible mechanism has been proposed for the formation of anisotropic Ag nanoparticles from silver oxalate. © IOP Publishing Ltd.