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We investigate the strongly temperature-dependent radiative lifetime of electron–hole excitations in colloidal CdSe nanocrystal quantum dots over nearly three orders of magnitude in temperature (300 K to 380 mK). These studies reveal an intrinsic, radiative upper limit of ∼1 μs for the storage of excitons below 2 K. At higher temperatures, exciton lifetimes are consistent with thermal activation from the dark-exciton ground state, but with two different activation thresholds. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.