Abstract YBO3:Tb3+ nanocrystalline phosphors were successfully deposited by a solution–combustion method, using rare-earth nitrates, urea and boric acid as starting materials. The crystal structure, morphology, chemical composition and photoluminescence properties of the films were investigated by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The results of SEM and XRD revealed that the powders were composed of spherical YBO3:Tb3+ nanocrystals with average grain size of between 50 and 100nm. The electron diffraction spectroscopy (EDS) confirmed the presence of the Y, B, O, and C. The XRD measurements revealed YBO3:Tb3+ (JCPDS:83-1205) structure when annealed at 1000°C for 2h. The YBO3:Tb3+ powders exhibited emissions at 490, 545 and 585nm, which were assigned to the 5D4–7F6, 5D4–7F5 and 5D4–7F4 transitions of Tb3+, respectively. Among them, the green emission at 545nm (5D4–7F5) was dominant.