A fabrication technique of high-purity vertically aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes (VA-SWCNTs) using atmospheric pressure plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition is presented. Although densely mono-dispersed Fe-Co catalysts of a few nanometers is primarily responsible for VA-SWCNT growth, carbon precipitation was virtually absent in the thermal CVD regime at 700 °C. On the other hand, high-purity VA-SWCNTs without measurable defects were grown at 4 μm min-1 by applying atmospheric pressure radio-frequency discharge (APRFD) which has been previously developed for this purpose. The results proved that cathodic ion sheath adjacent to the substrates, where a large potential drop exists, also plays an essential role for the controlled growth of SWCNTs, while ion damage to the VA-SWCNTs is inherently avoided due to high collision frequency among molecules in atmospheric pressure. Operation regime of APRFD and tentative reaction mechanisms for VA-SWCNT growth are discussed along with optical emission spectroscopy of near substrate region.