This paper presents a linear stability analysis for the onset of natural convection in a horizontal nanofluid layer. The employed model incorporates the effects of Brownian motion and thermophoresis. Both monotonic and oscillatory convection for free–free, rigid–rigid, and rigid–free boundaries are investigated. The oscillatory instability is possible when nanoparticles concentrate near the bottom of the layer, so that the density gradient caused by such a bottom-heavy nanoparticle distribution competes with the density variation caused by heating from the bottom. It is established that the instability is almost purely a phenomenon due to buoyancy coupled with the conservation of nanoparticles. It is independent of the contributions of Brownian motion and thermophoresis to the thermal energy equation. Rather, the Brownian motion and thermophoresis enter to produce their effects directly into the equation expressing the conservation of nanoparticles so that the temperature and the particle density are coupled in a particular way, and that results in the thermal and concentration buoyancy effects being coupled in the same way.