We report the use of a solution-processed ZnO nanoparticle buffer layer in hybrid solar cells based on blends of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and CdSe quantum dots. Depending on the size of the CdSe nanocrystal, these devices exhibit 20-70% higher photocurrent output than similar devices without the ZnO nanoparticle layer, which is attributed to a combination of electronic and optical effects. With negligible change in open-circuit voltage and a small increase in the fill factor, the power conversion efficiency of these P3HT:CdSe hybrid solar cells was increased by 30-80% with incorporation of the ZnO nanoparticle layer. The presence of the ZnO nanoparticle layer also drastically improves the stability of these hybrid solar cells. Less than 40% loss in efficiency was observed for such devices after 70 days of exposure to the laboratory ambient without any type of encapsulation.