QCD is constructed as a lattice gauge theory in which the elements of the link matrices are represented by non-commuting operators acting in a Hilbert space. The resulting quantum link model for QCD is formulated with a fifth Euclidean dimension, whose extent resembles the inverse gauge coupling of the resulting four-dimensional theory after dimensional reduction. The inclusion of quarks is natural in Shamir's variant of Kaplan's fermion method, which does not require fine-tuning to approach the chiral limit. A rishon representation in terms of fermionic constituents of the gluons is derived and the quantum link Hamiltonian for QCD with a U(N) gauge symmetry is expressed in terms of glueball, meson and constituent quark operators. The new formulation of QCD is promising both from an analytic and from a computational point of view. ©1999 The American Physical Society.