We report a highly sensitive method for rapid identification and quantification of rare-event cells carrying low-abundance surface biomarkers. The method applies lanthanide bioprobes and time-gated detection to effectively eliminate both nontarget organisms and background noise and utilizes the europium containing nanoparticles to further amplify the signal strength by a factor of ∼20. Of interest is that these nanoparticles did not correspondingly enhance the intensity of nonspecific binding. Thus, the dramatically improved signal-to-background ratio enables the low-expression surface antigens on single cells to be quantified. Furthermore, we applied an orthogonal scanning automated microscopy (OSAM) technique to rapidly process a large population of target-only cells on microscopy slides, leading to quantitative statistical data with high certainty. Thus, the techniques together resolved nearly all false-negative events from the interfering crowd including many false-positive events.