Y2O3 nanoparticles doped with different concentrations of Er3+ were prepared by the co-precipitation method. X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy results show that Er3+ dissolves completely in the Y2O3 cubic phase. The Er3+:Y2O3 nanoparticles are homogeneous in size and nearly spherical, and the average diameter of the particles after being calcined at 1,000 degrees C for 2 h is in the range of 40-60 nm. When Er3+:Y2O3 nanoparticles are excited under a 980 nm diode laser, there are two main emission bands: green emission centered at 562 nm corresponding to the 4S3/2/2H11/2 --> 4115/2 radiative transitions and red emission centered at 660 nm corresponding to the 4F9/2 --> 4I15/2 radiative transitions. By changing the doping concentration of Er3+ ions, the up-conversion luminescence can be gradually tuned from green to red.