Water-soluble CdTe/CdS quantum dots (QDs) with tuneable emissions were prepared in aqueous solution at pH = 6-7 via refluxing and hydrothermal treatment. The resultant CdTe/CdS QDs are stabilized with mercaptosuccinic acid (MSA) and show high fluorescence quantum yields (maximum QY is 84%). Characterization with UV-Vis, PL, XPS, XRD and TEM demonstrates a core (CdTe)-shell (CdS) structure, which leads to high fluorescence quantum yields. The effective protection from CdS shell and MSA enables CdTe QDs to be chemically stable in a pH range of 6-9 and less toxic. These merits make our CdTe/CdS QDs very promising for bio-imaging applications, as exemplified by labelling HEK 293 cells.