In this paper, we report a simple, sensitive and selective colorimetric visualization of dopamine (DA) using dithiobis(succinimidylpropionate) (DSP)-modified gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) as probes and ferric ions as cross-linkers. Via the standard amine coupling reaction between the amino groups of DA and activated carboxyl groups of DSP, DA molecules can be assembled onto the surface of DSP-AuNPs. Accordingly, Fe3+ ions induce a change of DSP-AuNPs in color and UV-vis absorbance by coordinating to the catechol groups of the anchored DA. The pH dependence and mechanism of this method are discussed. A detection limit of 2 nM was obtained, which is lower than those achievable with currently used chromatographic and electrochemical techniques. The feasibility for the detection of DA in artificial cerebrospinal fluid has been demonstrated.