Attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was used to characterize the surface species on oxide-free silicon nanowires (SiNWs) after etching with aqueous HF solution. The HF-etched SiNW surfaces were found to be hydrogen-terminated; in particular, three types of silicon hydride species, the monohydride (SiH), the dihydride (SiH(2)), and the trihydride (SiH(3)), had been observed. The thermal stability of the hydrogen-passivated surfaces of SiNWs was investigated by measuring the FTIR spectra after annealing at different elevated temperatures. It was found that hydrogen desorption of the trihydrides occurred at approximately 550 K, and that of the dihydrides occurred at approximately 650 K. At or above 750 K, all silicon hydride species began to desorb from the surfaces of the SiNWs. At around 850 K, the SiNW surfaces were free of silicon hydride species. The stabilities and reactivities of HF-etched SiNWs in air and water were also studied. The hydrogen-passivated surfaces of SiNWs showed good stability in air (under ambient conditions) but relatively poor stability in water. The stabilities and reactivities of the SiNWs are also compared with those of silicon wafers.