Abstract Silver nanoparticle (AgNP) was incorporated into dopamine-modified alginate/chitosan (DAL/CHI) polyelectrolyte multilayer to modify the surface of titanium alloy and improve its antibacterial property. Scanning electron microscopy showed that AgNP with the size of 50nm embedded in DAL/CHI multilayers homogeneously. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis indicated that the nanoparticles were silver (0) with peaks at 368.4 and 374.4eV, respectively. The formation of silver (0) without the addition of reductants was due to the self-polymerization of dopamine, which can reduce the silver cation into neutral metal. The polyelectrolyte multilayer coating enhanced the wettability of titanium alloy and promoted the fibroblast proliferation significantly, which could be attributed to the excellent biocompatibility of DAL/CHI. Despite the slight fall of L929 cell activity after AgNP incorporation, AgNP-DAL/CHI multilayer inhibited the growth of both Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. The above results demonstrate that dopamine decoration is a simple and effective way to induce the in-situ formation of AgNP within polyelectrolyte multilayer. Furthermore, the AgNP-containing multilayer considerably enhances the antibacterial activity of titanium alloy. The fabrication of AgNP-DAL/CHI multilayer on the surface of titanium implant might have great potential in orthopedic use.