Gold and silver-gold alloy nanoparticles with mean diameter of 10 nm and narrow size distribution were prepared by reduction of the correspondent metal precursors using aqueous dextran solution which acts as both a reducing and capping agent. The formation of nanoparticles was characterized by UV-vis spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and dynamic light scattering (DLS). The silver and gold nanoparticles exhibited absorption maxima at 425 and 551 nm respectively; while for the bimetallic Ag-Au alloy appeared 520 nm in between them. TEM images showed monodispersed particles in the range of 8-10 nm. The crystallinity of the nanoparticles was assured by XRD analysis. DLS data gave particle size distribution. The dextran stabilized Au nanoparticles used as a colorimetric sensor for detection and estimation of pesticide present in water. The dextran stabilized Ag-Au alloy nanoparticles exhibited interesting antimicrobial activity against bacteria at micromolar concentrations. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.