Surface oxidation and chemical passivation of single-crystal Ge nanowires with diameters ranging between 7 and 25 nm were studied. The surface chemistry differs significantly from that of well-studied monolithic atomically smooth single-crystal substrates. High-resolution Ge 3d XPS measurements reveal that Ge nanowires with chemically untreated surfaces exhibit greater susceptibility to oxidation than monolithic Ge substrates. Multiple solution-phase routes to Ge nanowire surface passivation were studied, including sulfidation, hydride and chloride termination, and organic monolayer passivation. Etching in HCl results in chloride-terminated surfaces, whereas HF etching leads to hydride termination with limited stability. Exposure to aqueous ammonium sulfide solutions leads to a thick glassy germanium sulfide layer. Thermally initiated hydrogermylation reactions with alkenes produce chemically stable, covalently bonded organic monolayer coatings that enable ohmic electrical contacts to be made to the nanowires.