We have investigated the role of manganese oxide on the crystallographic and morphological modifications of cubic 8mol. % yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ). X-ray diffraction studies indicate that manganese dissolution leads to partial transformation of cubic YSZ into the tetragonal polymorph along with contraction of the unit cell. Evolution of an undulated surface with 2-15nm roughness has been observed using electron and atomic force microscopies. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.