Gold nanoparticles are useful in biomedical applications due to their distinct optical properties and high chemical stability. Reports of the biogenic formation of gold colloids from gold complexes has also led to an increased level of interest in the biomineralization of gold. However, the mechanism responsible for biomolecule-directed gold nanoparticle formation remains unclear due to the lack of structural information about biological systems and the fast kinetics of biomimetic chemical systems in solution. Here we show that intact single crystals of lysozyme can be used to study the time-dependent, protein-directed growth of gold nanoparticles. The protein crystals slow down the growth of the gold nanoparticles, allowing detailed kinetic studies to be carried out, and permit a three-dimensional structural characterization that would be difficult to achieve in solution. Furthermore, we show that additional chemical species can be used to fine-tune the growth rate of the gold nanoparticles.