Herein, we report the development of extremely sensitive sandwich assay of kanamycin using a combination of anti-kanamycin functionalized hybrid magnetic (Fe3O4) nanoparticles (MNPs) and 2-mercaptobenzothiazole labeled Au-core@Ag-shell nanoparticles as the recognition and surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrate, respectively. The hybrid MNPs were first prepared via surface-mediated RAFT polymerization of N-acryloyl-L-glutamic acid in the presence of 2-butylsulfanylcarbonylthiolsulfanyl) propionic acid-modified MNPs as a RAFT agent and then biofunctionalized with anti-kanamycin, which are both specific for kanamycin and can be collected via a simple magnet. After separating kanamycin from the sample matrix, they were sandwiched with the SERS substrate. According to our experimental results, the limit of detection (LOD) was determined to be 2 pg mL(-1), this value being about 3-7 times more than sensitive than the LOD of previously reported results, which can be explained by the higher SERS activity of silver coated gold nanoparticles. The analysis time took less than 10 min, including washing and optical detection steps. Furthermore, the sandwich assay was evaluated for investigating the kanamycin specificity on neomycin, gentamycin and streptomycin and detecting kanamycin in artificially contaminated milk. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.