Ceria (CeO2) has many important applications, notably in catalysis. Many of its uses rely on generating nanodimensioned particles. Ceria has important redox chemistry where Ce4+ cations can be reversibly reduced to Ce3+ cations and associated anion vacancies. The significantly larger size of Ce3+ (compared with Ce4+) has been shown to result in lattice expansion. Many authors have observed lattice expansion in nanodimensioned crystals (nanocrystals), and these have been attributed to the presence of stabilized Ce3+-anion vacancy combinations in these systems. Experimental results presented here show (i) that significant, but complex, changes in the lattice parameter with size can occur in 2-500 nm crystallites, (ii) that there is a definitive relationship between defect chemistry and the lattice parameter in ceria nanocrystals, and (iii) that the stabilizing mechanism for the Ce3+-anion vacancy defects at the surface of ceria nanocrystals is determined by the size, the surface status, and the analysis conditions. In this work, both lattice expansion and a more unusual lattice contraction in ultrafine nanocrystals are observed. The lattice deformations seen can be defined as a function of both the anion vacancy (hydroxyl) concentration in the nanocrystal and the intensity of the additional pressure imposed by the surface tension on the crystal. The expansion of lattice parameters in ceria nanocrystals is attributed to a number of factors, most notably, the presence of any hydroxyl moieties in the materials. Thus, a very careful understanding of the synthesis combined with characterization is required to understand the surface chemistry of ceria nanocrystals.