MDR1 (multidrug resistance geneⅠ) mRNA expression is a promising biomarker for the prediction of doxorubicin resistance in clinic. However, the traditional technical process in clinic is complicated and cannot perform the real-time detection mRNA in living single cells. In this study, the expression of MDR1 mRNA was analyzed based on optimized gold nanoparticle beacon in tumor cells. Firstly, gold nanoparticle (AuNP) was modified by thiol-PEG, and the MDR1 beacon sequence was screened and optimized using a BLAST bioinformatics strategy. Then, optimized MDR1 molecular beacons were characterized by transmission electron microscope, UV–vis and fluorescence spectroscopies. The cytotoxicity of MDR1 molecular beacon on L-02, K562 and K562/Adr cells were investigated by MTT assay, suggesting that MDR1 molecular beacon was low inherent cytotoxicity. Dark field microscope was used to investigate the cellular uptake of hDAuNP beacon assisted with ultrasound. Finally, laser scanning confocal microscope images showed that there was a significant difference in MDR1 mRNA expression in K562 and K562/Adr cells, which was consistent with the results of q-PCR measurement. In summary, optimized MDR1 molecular beacon designed in this study is a reliable strategy for detection MDR1 mRNA expression in living tumor cells, and will be a promising strategy for in guiding patient treatment and management in individualized medication.