Formation mechanism and optical properties of InAs quantum dots (QDs) on the surface of GaAs nanowires (NWs) were investigated. This NW-QDs hybrid structure was fabricated by Au-catalyzed metal organic chemical vapor deposition. We found that the formation and distribution of QDs were strongly influenced by the deposition time of InAs as well as the diameter of GaAs NWs. A model based on the adatom diffusion mechanism was proposed to describe the evolution process of the QDs. Photoluminescence emission from the InAs QDs with a peak wavelength of 940 nm was observed at room temperature. The structure also exhibits a decoupling feature that QDs act as gain medium, while NW acts as Fabry-Perot cavity. This hybrid structure could serve as an important element in high-performance NW-based optoelectronic devices, such as near-infrared lasers, optical detectors, and solar cells.