In this paper, CdSe nanocrystal dissolution in an aqueous solution was studied. It was found that light is a key factor affecting the dissolution of nanocrystals. In the presence of light, the electrons generated from CdSe nanocrystals reduce water to hydrogen and hydroxide ions (OH − ) while photo-generated holes oxidize CdSe to Cd2 + and elemental Se. The dissolution was accelerated in an acidic medium while moderate alkalinity (pH = 10.3) can slow down the dissolution possibly due to precipitation of nanocrystals. This study has strong implications for the use of these crystals in aqueous environments (bioimaging and dye-sensitized solar cells).