In this study, a new, sensitive, and rapid assay was developed to quantitatively measure the proteolytic enzyme activity using the surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) probe. Two different shapes of gold nanoparticles, gold nanosphere and nanorod particles were produced. SERS label, comprising self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of Raman reporter molecule (5,5-Dithiobis (2-Nitrobenzoic acid), DTNB), was coated on the surface of the nanoparticles. Two different SERS-based analysis platforms were designed using gold-coated glass slide and polystyrene microtiter plate. The calibration curves were obtained by plotting the intensity of the SERS signal of symmetric NO2 stretching of DTNB at 1326 cm(-1) vs. the protease concentration. The effects of nanoparticle geometry and assay platform on the protease assay were investigated and the best working combination of the parameters was selected as rod shaped SERS probe and gold-coated glass slide. The correlation between the protease activity and SERS signal was found to be linear within the range of 0.1-2 mU/mL (R-2 = 0.979). The limit of detection CLOD) and limit of quantification (LOQ) values of the validated method were found as 0.43 and 1.30 mU/mL, respectively. The intra-day and inter-day precisions of the method, as relative standard deviation (RSD), were determined as 2.5% and 3.6%, respectively. The developed method was successfully applied for quantitative analysis of the commercial enzyme preparate that is used in cheese making process. It was also used for investigation of substrate specificity of protease enzyme towards the casein and bovine serum albumin. The proposed method has a flexibility to try different substrates for the detection of various enzyme activities. Crown Copyright (C) 2010 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.