Lithium cobalt oxide $(LiCoO_2)$ has been found to be an important cathode material for applications in rechargeable lithium batteries. It is usually synthesized by a high temperature route, which is tedious and time-consuming. In the present investigations, $LiCoO_2$ has been synthesized by a novel rapid-combustion route using stoichiometric amounts of $Li_2CO_3, Co(NO_3)_2$, and diformyl hydrazine. The redox mixture when rapidly heated at 350°C ignites and yields $LiCoO_2$ in a few minutes. The reaction is complete in a few minutes time. The material is characterized by physical and electrochemical methods, it shows encouraging performance as cathode material for lithium rechargeable cells (11 refs.