Synthesis of nanoparticles with interesting physico-chemical properties using efficient as well as eco-friendly technology is one of the main objectives of nanotechnology. Biological systems have been reported to synthesize inorganic materials under certain circumstances. Exploiting the biosynthetic potential of different organisms, nanoparticles of varying morphologies and sizes have been synthesized. Among the nanomaterials, gold has received considerable attention owing to its varied applications in the fields of nano-medicine, catalysis, electronics, and optics. This review gives an account on the biosynthesis of gold nanoparticles from microorganisms, plants, and other biological sources, with particular emphasis on the probable mechanisms leading to the formation of gold nanoparticles and the extent of control over nanoparticle properties that has been achieved so far in the biosynthetic protocols. It has been speculated that enzymes and/or proteins secreted by the organisms are involved in the bio-reduction and stabilization of the nanoparticles. The biosynthetic procedures could compete with existing solvent-based chemical synthetic procedures in order to achieve stable and monodisperse gold nanoparticles in large scale. Copyright © 2011 American Scientific Publishers All rights reserved.