The nanoindentation technique was employed to examine the strain rate sensitivity, m, and its dependence on the structural state of a Zr-based bulk metallic glass (BMG). The free volume content in the BMG was varied by examining samples in the as-cast (AC), shot-peened (SP), and structurally relaxed (SR) states. Hardness values measured at different loading rates and over a temperature range of 300-423. K as well as the strain-rate jump tests conducted in the quasi-static regime at room temperature, show that m is always negative. All the load-displacement (. P-. h) curves in this temperature regime exhibit serrated load-displacement responses, indicating that the shear band mediated inhomogeneous plastic flow governs deformation. Such localization of flow and associated softening is the raison d'être for the negative m. Significant levels of pile-up around the indents were also noted. The order in the average values of hardness, pile-up heights, and the displacement bursts on the P-. h curves was always such that SR>AC>SP, which is also the order of increasing free volume content. These observations were utilized to discuss the reasons for the negative strain rate sensitivity, and its dependence on the structural state of metallic glasses. It is suggested that the positive values of m reported in the literature for them are possibly experimental artefacts that arise due to large pile ups around the indents which lead to erroneous estimation in hardness values. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.