We report the molecular-beam-epitaxy growth and characterization of BexCd1-xSe (0.06≪x≪0.2) epilayers and Be0.08Cd0.92Se/Zn0.32Cd0.25Mg0.43Se quantum-well (QW) structures on InP substrates. Good optical properties and high crystalline quality were established using photoluminescence and x-ray diffraction measurements. Narrow x-ray rocking curves with line widths down to 49 arc sec were obtained for Be0.2Cd0.8Se, closely lattice-matched to InP. A strong luminescence emission with energy of 2.072 eV and a full width at half maximum of 27 meV at 77 K was obtained from a QW structure with a 48-Å-thick QW. Strong room-temperature luminescence was also observed from the QW. A linear dependence of the QW photoluminescence intensity on the excitation laser density and an absence of shift in the emission energy indicates that the QW emission has an excitonic behavior. Based on these results and on the expected lattice-hardening properties of BeSe, we propose that BeCdSe is an attractive quantum-well material for visible light-emitting diodes. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.