We probed the interaction between Au38@BSA and various heavy metal ions using luminescence spectroscopy. Interestingly, Au38@BSA showed luminescence enhancement upon interaction with Cd2+ and Pb2+ at concentrations higher than 1 ppm, due to the formation of cluster aggregates. Such aggregates were detected by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and high resolution electron microscopy (HRTEM) studies. Luminescence enhancement of Au38@BSA in the presence of Cd2+ was due to the interaction of Cd2+ with the cluster core, while Pb2+-induced luminescence enhancement was due to BSA-Pb2+ interaction. Observations were further supported by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) studies. This kind of phenomenon has been observed in protein protected clusters for the first time. We believe that such metal-ion-induced luminescence enhancement can be used to synthesize cluster systems with enhanced optical properties and different ion-cluster interactions can be used to develop metal ion sensors using Au38@BSA. © 2019 American Chemical Society.