We report the development of novel luminescent nanoparticles composed of inorganic luminescent dye, Tris(2,2′-bipyridyl) dichlororuthenium (II) hexahydrate, doped inside a silica network. These dye doped silica (DDS) nanoparticles have been synthesized using a water-in-oil microemulsion technique in which controlled hydrolysis of the tetraethyl orthosilicate leads to the formation of monodispersed nanoparticles. They are prepared with a variety of sizes: small (5±1 nm), medium (63±4 nm), and large (400±10 nm), which shows the efficiency of the microemulsion technique for the synthesis of uniform nanoparticles. All these nanoparticles are suitable for biomarker application since they are much smaller than cellular dimension. These nanoparticles are highly photostable in comparison to most commonly used organic dyes. These nanoparticles have been characterized by various microscopic and spectroscopic techniques. The amount of dye content in these nanoparticles has been optimized to eliminate self-quenching. It has been observed that maximum luminescence intensity is achieved when the dye content is around 20 wt%. Silica surface of DDS nanoparticles is available for surface modification and bioconjunction. For demonstration as a biomarker, the DDS nanoparticle’s surface has been biochemically modified to attach membrane-anchoring groups and applied successfully to stain human leukemia cells. © 2001 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.