The synthesis of gold nanoplates was carried out in an aqueous solution by thermal reduction of HAuCl4 with trisodium citrate in the presence of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) surfactant in just 5-40 min. The sizes of the gold nanoplates can be varied from as small as tens of nanometers in width, to several hundreds of nanometers, and even a few microns in width by changing the reagent concentrations, solution temperature, and the reaction time. A [CTAB]/[HAuCl4] ratio of 6 in the reaction solution was found to be favorable for the formation of gold nanoplates. The nanoplates possess well-defined shapes with sharp edges. The small nanoplates exhibit mainly a triangular shape, while larger nanoplates show a mixture of triangular, hexagonal, truncated triangular, and other symmetrical structures. The nanoplates are composed of essentially (111) lattice planes, as revealed by both XRD and TEM results. Nanoplates with widths from several hundreds of nanometers to a few microns absorb light strongly in the near-infrared region. The growth mechanism of these nanoplates was investigated. The ability to synthesize gold nanoplates with these different size ranges in large scale in aqueous solution using simple CTAB capping surfactant should allow more diverse applications of gold nanoplates.