Plasma electrolytic oxidation of zirconium in citric acid was investigated using optical spectroscopy. A rich emission spectrum consisting of about 360 zirconium and 170 oxygen atomic and ionic lines was identified in the spectral regions 313-320, 340-516, and 626-640 nm. It was shown that the remaining features observed in the spectrum could be ascribed to various molecular species, which involve zirconium, oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon. The temperature of the plasma core (<i>T</i> = 7500 ± 1000 K) was determined using measured Zr line intensities, and the temperature of peripheral plasma zone (<i>T</i> = 2800 ± 500 K) was estimated from the intensity distribution within a part of an OH spectrum. The composition of the plasma containing zirconium, oxygen, and hydrogen, under assumption of local thermal equilibrium, was calculated in the temperature range up to 12 000 K and for pressure of 10<sup>5</sup> and 10<sup>7</sup> Pa, in order to explain the appearance of the observed spectral features.

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