Transition metals of copper, zinc, chromium and nickel were substituted into cobalt ferrite nanoparticles via a sol-gel route using citric acid as a chelating agent. The microstructure and elemental composition were characterized using scanning electron microscopy combined with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Phase analysis of transition metal-substituted cobalt ferrite nanoparticles was performed via X-ray diffraction. Surface wettability was measured using the water contact angle technique. The surface roughness of all nanoparticles was measured using profilometry. Moreover, thermogravimetric analysis and differential scanning calorimetry were performed to determine the temperature at which the decomposition and oxidation of the chelating agents took place. Results indicated that the substitution of transition metals influences strongly the microstructure, crystal structure and antibacterial property of the cobalt ferrite nanoparticles.