This paper describes the synthesis of CdTe and CdTe/CdS core-shell quantum dots (QDs) in aqueous solution. The quantum dots are prepared by using thioglycolic acid (TGA) as stabilizers. The synthesis procedure is simple and controllable. Different sized CdTe QDs with tuned PL wavelengths from 550 to 640 nm was synthesized by controlling reaction time within 5 h in aqueous solutions at a temperature of 100 °C. We also investigated the influence of precursor Cd/Te molar ratio for the prepared QDs. It was showed that the core-shell CdTe/CdS QDs have larger photoluminescence (PL) emission intensity than the original CdTe QDs. The synthesized core-shell CdTe/ZnS QDs have high quality, water-soluble and will be useful in applications of biolabeling, biosensing, and imaging.