A simple one-step rapid synthetic route is described for the preparation of silver nanoparticles by reduction of silver nitrate (AgNO 3) using aqueous dextran solution which acts as both reducing and capping agent. The formation of silver nanoparticles is assured by characterization with UV-vis spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The absorbance of the silver nanoparticles is observed at 423 nm. The AFM image clearly shows the surface morphology of the well-dispersed silver nanoparticles with size range of 10-60 nm. TEM images show that the nanoparticles are spherical in shape with ∼5-10 nm dimensions. The crystallinity of Ag nanoparticles is assured by XRD analysis. The antimicrobial activity of as synthesized silver nanoparticles is tested against the bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The bacterial growth is inhibited by gradual reduction of the concentration of the silver nanoparticles. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.