The synthesis and application of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have attracted much attention due to their interesting optical and chemical properties, as well as their utility in imaging, therapeutics, sensors, electronics, and catalysis. AuNPs are synthesized using multiple approaches, followed by chemical modification or encapsulation, to enhance their colloidal stability, biocompatibility, and targeting. Here, we report the one-step synthesis of gold-polyester nanoparticles for use as an imaging agent. The AuNPs were prepared inside polymeric NPs by means of ultraviolet irradiation of a gold salt in the presence of Irgacure I-2959 photoinitiator. We monitored the kinetic growth and nucleation of AuNPs (in vitro and ex vivo) over time using spectral analysis. Moreover, we investigated the cytotoxicity, localized plasmonic surface resonance (LSPR), and cellular imaging capabilities of the Au-polyester nanoparticles. The resulting Au-polyester NPs were characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), X-ray diffraction (XRD), dynamic light scattering (DLS), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to probe their chemical structure, size, zeta potential (ζ), and morphology, respectively. Furthermore, in vitro experiments showed that the NP formulation is stable over time and exhibits negligible toxicity against 3T3 fibroblast and U-87 MG glioblastoma cells. The results also demonstrated that the Au-polyester NPs exhibit excellent cellular imaging properties. This one-step strategy goes beyond current syntheses of gold-polyester nanoparticles because it can be used to synthesize the imaging agent in situ (i.e., in living cells) in lieu of conventional ex situ approaches.