Exploring the synthesis and biomedical applications of biocompatible quantum dots (QDs) is currently one of the fastest growing fields of nanotechnology. Hence, in this work, we present a facile approach to produce water-soluble (cadmium-free) quaternary Zn-Ag-In-S (ZAIS) QDs. Their efficient photoluminescence (PL) emissions can be tuned widely in the range of 525-625 nm by controlling the size and composition of the QDs with the PL quantum yields (QYs) of 15-30%. These highly luminescent ZAIS QDs are less toxic due to the absence of highly toxic cadmium, and can be versatilely modified by a DHLA-PEG-based ligand. Importantly, after being modified by tumor cell-specific targeting ligands (e.g., folate and RGD peptide), the PEGylated quaternary QDs show potential applications in tumor cell imaging as a promising alternative for Cd-based QDs.