AbstractIn situ synthesis of gold nanoparticles on paper sheets was achieved without any external reducing reagents and heat treatments. Surface-activated pulp fibers with carboxyl and aldehyde contents of 1.18 and 0.349 mmol g–1, respectively, which were obtained from softwood kraft pulp using 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine 1-oxyl (TEMPO), were fabricated into paper sheets with polyamideamine epichlorohydrin (PAE) resin with a papermaking technique. The TEMPO-oxidized pulp papers were flexible, lightweight, and easy to handle in a wet state due to the PAE-mediated reinforcement. Simple immersion of the white TEMPO-oxidized paper in an aqueous solution of tetrachloroauric acid at room temperature brought about distinct color change from white to red-purple, strongly suggesting the formation of gold nanoparticles. Post-oxidized aldehyde-free paper provided no color variation, and thus the aldehyde groups on pulp fibers made a significant contribution to the in situ synthesis of gold nanoparticles. The organic–inorganic paper materials of TEMPO-oxidized pulp and gold nanoparticles demonstrated the catalytic activity for the reduction of 4-nitrophenol to 4-aminophenol in an aqueous system.