Multiple applications of nanotechnology, especially those involving highly fluorescent nanoparticles (NPs) or quantum dots (QDs) have stimulated the research to develop simple, rapid and environmentally friendly protocols for synthesizing NPs exhibiting novel properties and increased biocompatibility. In this study, a simple protocol for the chemical synthesis of glutathione (GSH)-capped CdTe QDs (CdTe-GSH) resembling conditions found in biological systems is described. Using only CdCl2, K2TeO3 and GSH, highly fluorescent QDs were obtained under pH, temperature, buffer and oxygen conditions that allow microorganisms growth. These CdTe-GSH NPs displayed similar size, chemical composition, absorbance and fluorescence spectra and quantum yields as QDs synthesized using more complicated and expensive methods. CdTe QDs were not freely incorporated into eukaryotic cells thus favoring their biocompatibility and potential applications in biomedicine. In addition, NPs entry was facilitated by lipofectamine, resulting in intracellular fluorescence and a slight increase in cell death by necrosis. Toxicity of the as prepared CdTe QDs was lower than that observed with QDs produced by other chemical methods, probably as consequence of decreased levels of Cd+2 and higher amounts of GSH. We present here the simplest, fast and economical method for CdTe QDs synthesis described to date. Also, this biomimetic protocol favors NPs biocompatibility and helps to establish the basis for the development of new, “greener” methods to synthesize cadmium-containing QDs.