Er3+ doped SrMoO4 nanostructures with various concentration of Er3+ have been synthesized by chemical precipitation method. The as prepared nanostructures were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), UV–Visible spectroscopy, Vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM) and Transmission Electron microscopy (TEM). XRD analysis confirmed that the particles crystallize in a scheelite-type tetragonal structure. The particle sizes were found to be 20–40 nm as calculated from TEM. VSM measurements have revealed the ferromagnetic nature of the nanostructures. The third order nonlinear optical behavior was studied by a Z-scan technique using a diode pumped continuous wave Nd:YAG laser at 532 nm. Open and closed aperture results reveal that the observed nonlinearity of the nanostructures is attributed to reverse saturable absorption and self-defocusing nature. The calculated nonlinear component of refractive index, absorption coefficient and magnitude of nonlinear susceptibility were found to be in the order of ´ 10−9 (cm2/W), 10−4 (cm/W) and 10−6 esu, respectively. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.