A fluorescence-based detection scheme that uses ligand functionalized gold nanoparticles is proposed. The transduction scheme is based on the strong quenching of the fluorescence emission exerted by metallic surfaces on fluorophores positioned in their immediate vicinity (<5 nm). Binding of fluorophore-labeled anti-biotin to biotinylated gold nanoparticles resulted in decreased fluorescence emission intensity. Subsequent competitive dissociation of labeled anti-biotin with D-biotin resulted in increased fluorescence emission intensity. These interactions occurred by means of specific molecular recognition because when the binding sites of anti-biotin were saturated with D-biotin prior to interaction with the gold nanoparticles; changes in the fluorescence emission intensity were not observed.