Shah Tahmasb II's victories were achieved by his general Nadir Khouli (1736-1747), and when he attempted to lead an army himself against the Turks he lost large tracts of land to them within a month. Nadir returned to Isfahan, took Tahmasb prisoner and exiled him to Khorasan, placing Tahmasb's eight month old son on the throne, investing him with the title of Abbas III (1729-1736), and assumed the regency. He recovered all the land lost to the Turks, restoring the frontiers to their condition prior to the Afghani interregnum. On March 31st, 1736, following the somewhat opportune death of Abbas III, he accepted the offer of the throne, on condition that Shi'ism be dropped as the official state religion. This was probably as much to make peace with the rest of the Islamic world, in particular Turkey, as it was to mark the formal end of the Safavid dynasty.
At first Nadir's reign was marked by great successes and liberality, in particular a campaign against India from which he returned so wealthy that he was able to suspend all taxes for three years. During this campaign, his son, Reza Khouli, on hearing a false report of his father's death, had Tahmasb executed. Later he was blamed for a failed assassination attempt and Nadir had him blinded. Reza said "It is not my eyes you have put out but those of Persia". Nadir seems to have bitterly regretted this action. Fifty noblemen who had witnessed the blinding were executed on the grounds that they should have offered up themselves instead, and he became increasingly paranoid, ordering the assassination of large numbers of supposed enemies. At length in 1747, he was assassinated by the captain of his guard at the age of sixty-one.
Nadir Shah is thought to be responsible for commissioning the large paintings which hang on the Western wall of the palace of Chehel Sotoon. These are thought to have been by a Russian artist and a detail of one of them, showing Shah Ismail, wearing a turban ornamented with the tassels of the Qizilbash tribesmen, defeating the leader of the Uzbeks.
He was followed by his nephew 'Ali, who took the title of Adil Shah. He had Reza Khouli along with all but one of Nadir's sons and grandsons executed, sparing only Shah Rukh who was fourteen. He in turn was toppled in a coup by his brother Ibrahim Khan who blinded Adil Shah. Ibrahim was almost immediately deposed and murdered by his own troops and Adil was put to death at the same time. Shah Rukh was put on the throne, deposed, blinded, reinstated deposed and reinstated again!
During this time every provincial governor of consequence declared independence and the country was plunged into anarchy, leaving the way open for Karim Khan (1753-1779) to assume the reins of power and start the Zand dynasty.