Semiconductor quantum dots are inorganic fluorescent nanocrystals that, because of their unique optical properties compared with those of organic fluorophores, have become popular as fluorescent imaging probes. Although external light excitation is typically required for imaging with quantum dots, a new type of quantum dot conjugate has been reported that can luminesce with no need for external excitation. These self-illuminating quantum dot conjugates can be prepared by coupling of commercially available carboxylate-presenting quantum dots to the light-emitting protein Renilla luciferase. When the conjugates are exposed to the luciferase's substrate coelenterazine, the energy released by substrate catabolism is transferred to the quantum dots through bioluminescence resonance energy transfer, leading to quantum dot light emission. This protocol describes step-by-step procedures for the preparation and characterization of these self-illuminating quantum dot conjugates. The preparation process is relatively simple and can be done in less than 2 hours. The availability of self-illuminating quantum dot conjugates will provide many new possibilities for in vivo imaging and detection, such as monitoring of in vivo cell trafficking, multiplex bioluminescence imaging and new quantum dot-based biosensors.