In this paper we describe the combined use of surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and a gas/solid reaction in the direct preparation of CdS-nanoparticle/block-copolymer composite shells on silica nanospheres. The block copolymer, consisting of poly(cadmium dimethacrylate) (PCDMA) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), is obtained by repeatedly performing the surface-initiated ATRP procedures in N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF) solution at room temperature, using cadmium dimethacrylate (CDMA) and methyl methacrylate (MMA) as the monomers. CdS nanoparticles with an average size of about 3 nm are generated in situ by exposing the silica nanospheres coated with block-copolymer shells to H2S gas. These synthetic core–shell nanospheres were characterized using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), dynamic light scattering (DLS), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), diffuse reflectance UV-vis spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and powder X-ray diffraction (XRD). These composite nanospheres exhibit strong red photoluminescence in the solid state at room temperature.