Abstract A new type of molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP)-based fluorescent artificial receptor was developed by anchoring MIP on the surface of denatured bovine serum albumin (dBSA) modified CdTe quantum dots (QDs) using the surface molecular imprinting process. The approach combined the merits of molecular imprinting technology and the fluorescent property of the CdTe QDs. The dBSA was used not only to modify the surface defects of the CdTe QDs, but also as assistant monomer to create effective recognition sites. Three different proteins, namely lysozyme (Lyz), cytochrome c (Cyt) and methylated bovine serum albumin (mBSA), were tested as the template molecules and then the receptors were synthesized by sol–gel reaction (imprinting process). The results of fluorescence and binding experiments demonstrated the recognition performance of the receptors toward the corresponding template. Under optimum conditions, the linear range for Lyz was from 1.4×10−8 to 8.5×10−6M, and the detection limit was 6.8nM. Moreover, the new artificial receptors were applied to separate and detect Lyz in real samples. This fluorescent artificial receptor may serve as a starting point in the design of highly effective synthetic fluorescent receptor for recognition of target protein.