The idea of preparing water-soluble chitosan and observing its nanostructural morphology are proposed using irradiation process. The water-soluble chitosan nanoparticles (WSCS-NPs) properties were assessed for a possible use as an antioxidant and reducing agent for a green synthesis of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). The characteristics of WSCS-NPs were verified using FT-IR, XRD, C H N analyzer and TGA. The nanostructural morphology was investigated using SEM and TEM. The number average molecular weight of WSCS-NPs was as low as 3800 g/mol with narrow polydispersity of 1.26. The average hydrodynamic diameter of WSCS-NPs was 15.40 +/- 0.47 nm. The 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) free radical scavenging activity of WSCS-NPs at 0.1 mg/mL was up to 80%, while the original CS exhibited no antioxidant activity. An effective concentration of WSCS-NPs to reduce DPPH free radicals (150 mu M) by 50% is as low as 0.025 mg/mL. The in vitro cytotoxicity test by MTT assay demonstrated that WSCS-NPs are non-toxic with an IC50 of 2000 mu g/mL. The WSCS-NPs are efficient reducing and stabilizing agent for producing stable colloidal AuNPs. The achievement of the WSCS-NPs and its ability to create AuNPs would be a part of growing interest of green nanotechnology in biomedicine. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.