We report on continuous-wave and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy studies of CdTe water-soluble nanocrystals at room temperature. For nanocrystals spread directly on the substrate we observe large variation both in fluorescence maximum energy and fluorescence lifetime. We attribute this to the influence of the surface of the nanocrystals on the stability of excitations in the nanocrystals. As the fluorescence lifetime of the nanocrystals is monitored, we find it increases with time from 6 to 18 ns and then saturates. Placing the nanocrystals in a polymer matrix remarkably improves the photostability and all the above-mentioned effects are diminished. Upon mixing the nanocrystals with gold spherical nanoparticles we observe a decrease of the fluorescence intensity due to efficient energy transfer to the nanoparticles.