Biomedical image retrieval is a challenging problem due to the varying contrast and size of structures in the images. The approaches for biomedical image retrieval generally rely on the feature descriptors to characterize the images. The feature descriptor of query image is compared with the descriptors of images from the database, to find the best matches. Several hand-crafted feature descriptors have been proposed so far for biomedical image retrieval by exploiting the local relationship of neighboring image pixels. It is observed in the literature that the local bit-plane decoded features are well suited for this retrieval task. Moreover, in recent past, it is also observed that the convolutional neural network-based features such as AlexNet, Vgg16, GoogleNet and ResNet perform well in many computer vision-related tasks. Motivated by the success of the deep learning-based approaches, this paper proposes a local bit-plane decoding-based AlexNet descriptor (LBpDAD) for biomedical image retrieval. The proposed LBpDAD is computed by max-fusing the ReLU operated feature maps of pre-trained AlexNet at a particular layer, obtained from the original and local bit-plane decoded images. The proposed approach is also compared with Vgg16, GoogleNet and ResNet models. The experiments on the proposed method over three benchmark biomedical databases of different modalities such as MRI, CT and microscopic show the efficacy of the proposed descriptor. © 2019, Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature.