A plasmonic bioassay for the specific detection of human influenza virus has been developed based on gold nanoparticles functionalised with a designed and synthesised thiolated trivalent a2,6-thio-linked sialic acid derivative. The glyconanoparticles consist of the thiolated trivalent a2,6-thio-linked sialic acid derivative and a thiolated polyethylene glycol (PEG) derivative self-assembled onto the gold surface. Varying ratios of the trivalent a2,6-thio-linked sialic acid ligand and the PEG ligand were used; a ratio of 25?:?75 was found to be optimum for the detection of human influenza virus X31 (H3N2). In the presence of the influenza virus a solution of the glyconanoparticles aggregate following the binding of the trivalent a2,6-thio-linked sialic acid ligand to the haemagglutinin on the surface of the virus. The aggregation of the glycoparticles with the influenza virus induces a colour change of the solution within 30 min. Non-purified influenza virus in allantoic fluid was successfully detected using the functionalised glyconanoparticles. A comparison between the trivalent and a monovalent a2,6-thio-linked sialic acid functionalised nanoparticles confirmed that more rapid results, with greater sensitivity, were achieved using the trivalent ligand for the detection of the X31 virus. Importantly, the glyconanoparticles were able to discriminate between human (a2,6 binding) and avian (a2,3 binding) RG14 (H5N1) influenza virus highlighting the binding specificity of the trivalent a2,6-thio-linked sialic acid ligand.