A novel approach to sensitive and rapid antigen detection is described. In the presence of a specific antigen, quantum dot-antibody conjugates rapidly self-assemble into agglomerates that are typically more than 1 order of magnitude larger than their individual components. The size distribution of the agglomerated colloids depends on, among other things, the relative concentration of quantum dot conjugates and antigen molecules. Quantum dot agglomerates mediated by antigen recognition were characterized by measuring their light scattering and fluorescence characteristics in an unmodified flow cytometer. Protein antigens angiopoietin-2 and mouse IgG were detected to sub-picomolar concentrations using this method. This simple technique enables the potential simultaneous detection of multiple antigenic biomarkers directly from physiological media and could be used for early detection and frequent screening of cancers and other diseases.