A one-step simple synthesis of silver colloid nanoparticles with controllable sizes is presented. In this synthesis, reduction of [Ag(NH(3))(2)](+) complex cation by four saccharides was performed. Four saccharides were used: two monosaccharides (glucose and galactose) and two disaccharides (maltose and lactose). The syntheses performed at various ammonia concentrations (0.005-0.20 mol L(-1)) and pH conditions (11.5-13.0) produced a wide range of particle sizes (25-450 nm) with narrow size distributions, especially at the lowest ammonia concentrations. The average size, size distribution, morphology, and structure of particles were determined by dynamic light scattering (DLS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and UV/Visible absorption spectrophotometry. The influence of the saccharide structure (monosacharides versus disaccharides) on the size of silver particles is briefly discussed. The reduction of [Ag(NH(3))(2)](+) by maltose produced silver particles with a narrow size distribution with an average size of 25 nm, which showed high antimicrobial and bactericidal activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including highly multiresistant strains such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Antibacterial activity of silver nanoparticles was found to be dependent on the size of silver particles. A very low concentration of silver (as low as 1.69 mug/mL Ag) gave antibacterial performance.