High quality nanocrystals have demonstrated substantial potential for biomedical applications. However, being generally hydrophobic, their use has been greatly limited by complicated and inefficient surface engineering that often fails to yield biocompatible nanocrystals with minimal aggregation in biological fluids and active targeting toward specific biomolecules. Using chimeric DNA molecules, we developed a one-step facile surface engineering method for hydrophobic nanocrystals. The procedure is simple and versatile, generating individual nanocrystals with multiple ligands. In addition, the resulting nanocrystals can actively and specifically target various molecular addresses, varying from nucleic acids to cancer cells. Together, the strategy developed here holds great promise in generating critical technologies needed for biomedical applications of nanocrystals.