The interaction between the dye cis-bis(4,4‘-dicarboxy-2,2‘-bipyridine)-bis(isothiocyanato)-ruthenium(II), Ru(dcbpyH2)2(NCS)2, and nanostructured ZnO was investigated by photoelectron spectroscopy (PES) using synchrotron radiation. The results are compared with those of nanostructured TiO2 sensitized with the same dye, which to date is the most efficient system for dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical solar cells. When comparing the two metal oxides, differences in the surface molecular structure were observed both for low and high dye coverages, as seen by comparing the oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur signals. The origin of these differences is discussed in terms of substrate-induced dye aggregation and in variations in surface bonding geometries. The measurements also provide information concerning the energy matching between the orbitals of the dye and the ZnO valence band, which is of importance in photoinduced charge transfer.