The surface of luminescent semiconductor quantum dots CdSe-ZnS was successfully grafted with multidentate ligand, Salen, to give quantum dot-Salen through condensation reaction between surface amine and salicylic aldehyde. This hybrid material possesses the characteristics of stable and narrow photoluminescence at ∼610 nm in water and organic polar solvents. It exhibits selective metal sensing toward certain transition metals such as Fe(II) and Cu(II) by photoluminescence quenching with estimated limit of detection of about 30 μM and 25 μM, repectively. The selective sensing of ferrous ions could be attributed to the fluorescence energy transfer between the quantum dots and the surface ferrous Salen complexes because the absorption spectra of the surface metal complexes overlap with the emission wavelength of the quantum dots. On the other hand, the selective sensing of copper can be attributed to both the fluorescence energy transfer and surface adsorption mechanism, but the latter quenching path is dominant which is supported by the fluorescence quenchig behavior. Copyright © 2010 American Scientific Publishers.