Iodide plays a vital role in many biological processes, including neurological activity and thyroid function. Due to its physiological relevance, a method for the rapid, sensitive, and selective detection of iodide in food, pharmaceutical products, and biological samples such as urine is of great importance. Herein, we demonstrate a novel and facile strategy for constructing a fluorescence turn-on sensor for iodide based on a T–HgII–T complex (T=thymine). A fluorescent anthracene–thymine dyad (An-T) was synthesized, the binding of which to a mercury(II) ion lead to the formation of a An-T–HgII–T-An complex, thereby quenching the fluorescent emission of this dyad. In this respect, the dyad An-T constituted a fluorescence turn-off sensor for mercury(II) ions in aqueous media. More importantly, it was found that upon addition of iodide, the mercury(II) ion was extracted from the complex due to the even stronger binding between mercury(II) ions and iodide, leading to the release of the free dyad and restoration of the fluorescence. By virtue of this fluorescence quenching and recovery process, the An-T–HgII–T-An complex constitutes a fluorescence turn-on sensor for iodide with a detection limit of 126 nM. Moreover, this sensor is highly selective for iodide over other common anions, and can be used in the determination of iodide in drinking water and biological samples such as urine. This strategy may provide a new approach for sensing some other anions.