By introducing the AlInGaN/AlGaN quaternary system as an active region, we fabricated an UV light-emitting diode (LED) with an emission wavelength of 348 nm. The optical power is 1 mW at an injection current of 50 mA under a bare-chip geometry, which is the highest report among UV–LEDs with an emission wavelength of around 350 nm grown on sapphire substrate. It means that the optical power of such LEDs is high enough to be used in practical application. In contrast to it, a similar UV–LED based on GaN/AlGaN system as an active region has been also grown, whose optical power is less than that of the AlInGaN/AlGaN-based UV–LED by one order of magnitude. The temperature-dependent photoluminescence study indicates that there exists a strong exciton-localization effect in the AlInGaN/AlGaN material system, while there is no distinguished exciton-localization effect in the GaN/AlGaN material system. Therefore, the high performance of the AlInGaN/AlGaN-based UV–LED can be attributed to the enhanced exciton-localization effect. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.