There is a growing interest in using quantum dots (QDs) and metallic nanoparticles (NPs), both for luminescence enhancement and surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). Here, we study the electromagnetic-field enhancement that can be generated by lead-sulfide (PbS) QDs using three-dimensional finite-element simulations. We investigate the field enhancement associated with combinations of PbS QDs with metallic NPs and substrates. The results show that high field enhancement can be achieved by combining PbS QDs with metallic NPs of larger sizes. The ideal size for Ag NPs is 25 nm, providing a SERS enhancement factor of ~5*108 for light polarization parallel to the NP dimer axis and a gap of 0.6 nm. For Au NPs, the bigger the size, the higher is the field for the studied diameters, up to 50 nm. The near-field values for PbS QDs above metallic substrates were found to be lower compared to the case of PbS QD-metal NP dimers. This study provides the understanding for the design and application of QDs for the enhancement of near-field phenomena. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.