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Gold nanowire arrays with different sizes were fabricated by electrochemical deposition in etched ion-track templates. The diameter of the gold nanowires between 30 and 130 nm could be well adjusted by pore sizes in the templates through etching time. Single-crystalline nanowires were achieved by changing the parameters of electrochemical deposition. The morphology and crystal structure of the fabricated gold nanowires were characterized by means of scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. The optical properties of the gold nanowire arrays embodied in templates were systematically measured by absorption spectra with a UV/Vis/NIR spectrophotometer. Due to the surface plasmon resonance effect, the extinction peaks of gold nanowire arrays possessed a red-shift with increasing wires diameter and a blue-shift with decreasing angle between incident light and nanowire arrays. The failure current density of the single gold nanowire as a function of diameter was determined and the failure mechanism was also discussed.