Cancer is a major cause of death and its early diagnosis has been a research goal for many decades. For males, prostatic carcinoma has become the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) has been widely recognized as a prostate cancer marker. Thus, measurement of PSMA would be more valuable for the early diagnosis of prostate cancer. Nanomaterials have the characteristics of small size effect, quantum size effect, macroscopic quantum tunneling effect and surface effect, and have been widely used in various fields, such as cell imaging, analysis and detection, drug release and treatment. Gold nanoparticles have been widely used in biosensing and medical diagnosis due to their simple preparation, high stability and unique photoelectric properties. In this paper, a new colorimetric approach is proposed for simple detection of prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) based on gold nanoparticles. In the experiment, we synthesized gold nanoparticles with positive charges, and the polyanionic peptide as the substrate of PSMA. The detection of prostate specific membrane antigen was based on the property that different aggregation states of gold nanoparticles can lead to the change of color and the specific recognition of PSMA for its substrate. The positively charged gold nanoparticles interact electrostatically with polyanionic peptide, resulting in aggregation of gold nanoparticles. In the presence of PSMA, however, the polyanionic peptide are hydrolyzed into glutamic acid fragment due to the reaction between the prostate specific membrane antigen and the polyanionic peptide, resulting in the dispersion of gold nanoparticles. This behaviour leads to the development of a rapid and simple colorimetric method for assaying PSMA activity, with a detection limit of 0.5 nM and the linear range of 2~10 nM. This approach is simple compared to the existing ones since the gold nanoparticles-peptide based sensor is easy to be assembled and the detection can be achieved without the involvement of complicated procedures. Moreover, the applicability of the method has been demonstrated by detecting PSMA spiked into urine samples.