As printed and flexible plastic electronic gadgets become increasingly viable today, there is a need to develop materials that suit the fabrication processes involved. Two desirable requirements are solution-processable active materials or precursors and low-temperature processability. In this article, we describe a straightforward method of depositing ZnO films by simple spin coating of an organometallic diethylzinc precursor solution and annealing the resulting film at low temperatures (≤200 °C) without involving any synthetic steps. By controlling the humidity in which annealing is conducted, we are able to adjust the intrinsic doping level and carrier concentration in diethylzinc-derived ZnO. Doped or conducting transport layers are greatly preferable to undoped layers as they enable low-resistance contacts and minimize the potential drops. This ability to controllably realize doped ZnO is a key feature of the fabrication process that we describe in this article. We employ field-effect measurements as a diagnostic tool to measure doping levels and mobilities in ZnO and demonstrate that doped ZnO with high charge carrier concentration is ideal for solar cell applications. Respectable power conversion efficiencies (up to 4.5\%) are achieved in inverted solar cells that incorporate diethylzinc-derived ZnO films as the electron transport layer and organic blends as the active material. Extensions of this approach to grow ternary and quaternary films with organometallic precursor chemicals will enable solution based growth of a number of semiconductor films as well as a method to dope them. © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.