Background: The unique discriminative ability of immunofluorescent probes can be severely compromised when probe emission competes against naturally occurring, intrinsically fluorescent substances (autofluorophores). Luminescence microscopes that operate in the time-domain can selectively resolve probes with long fluorescence lifetimes (τ > 100 μs) against short-lived fluorescence to deliver greatly improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). A novel time-gated luminescence microscope design is reported that employs an ultraviolet (UV) light emitting diode (LED) to excite fluorescence from a europium chelate immunoconjugate with a long fluorescence lifetime. Methods: A commercial Zeiss epifluorescence microscope was adapted for TGL operation by fitting with a time-gated image-intensified CCD camera and a high-power (100 mW) UV LED. Capture of the luminescence was delayed for a precise interval following excitation so that autofluorescence was suppressed. Giardia cysts were labeled in situ with antibody conjugated to a europium chelate (BHHST) with a fluorescence lifetime >500 μs. Results: BHHST-labeled Giardia cysts emit at 617 nm when excited in the UV and were difficult to locate within the matrix of fluorescent algae using conventional fluorescence microscopy, and the SNR of probe to autofluorescent background was 0.51:1. However in time-gated luminescence mode with a gate-delay of 5 μs, the SNR was improved to 12.8:1, a 25-fold improvement. Conclusion: In comparison to xenon flashlamps, UV LEDs are inexpensive, easily powered, and extinguish quickly. Furthermore, the spiked emission of the LED enabled removal of spectral niters from the microscope to significantly improve efficiency of fluorescence excitation and capture.