A sensitive, selective colorimetric Fe(3+) detection method has been developed by using pyrophosphate functionalized gold nanoparticles (P(2)O(7)(4-)-AuNPs). Gold nanoparticles were prepared by reducing HAuCl(4) with sodium borohydride, in the presence of Na(4)P(2)O(7). IR spectra suggested that pyrophosphates were capped on the surface of the gold nanoparticles. Aggregation of P(2)O(7)(4-)-AuNPs was induced immediately in the presence of Fe(3+) ions, yielding a color change from pink to violet. This Fe(3+)-induced aggregation of P(2)O(7)(4-)-AuNPs was monitored using first the naked eye and then UV-vis spectroscopy with a detection limit of 5.6 μM. The P(2)O(7)(4-)-AuNPs bound by Fe(3+) showed excellent selectivity compared to other metal ions (Ca(2+), Cd(2+), Co(2+), Fe(2+), Hg(2+), K(+), Mg(2+), Mn(2+), Na(+), Ni(2+), Pb(2+), and Zn(2+)). The best detection of Fe(3+) was achieved in a pH range from 3 to 9. In addition, the P(2)O(7)(4-)-AuNPs were also used to detect Fe(3+) in lake water samples, with low interference.