Multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) are grafted with gold (Au) nanoparticles of different sizes (1–12 and 1–20 nm) to form Au–MWCNT hybrids. The Au nanoparticles pile up at defect sites on the edges of MWCNTs in the form of chains. The micro-Raman scattering studies of these hybrids were carried using visible to infrared wavelengths (514.5 and 1064 nm). Enhanced Raman scattering and fluorescence is observed at an excitation wavelength of 514.5 nm. It is found that the graphitic (G) mode intensity enhances by 10 times and down shifts by approximately 3 cm−1 for Au–MWCNT hybrids in comparison with pristine carbon nanotubes. This enhancement in G mode due to surface-enhanced Raman scattering effect is related to the interaction of MWCNTs with Au nanoparticles. The enhancement in Raman scattering and fluorescence for large size nanoparticles for Au–MWCNTs hybrids is corroborated with localized surface plasmon polaritons. The peak position of localized surface plasmons of Au nanoparticles shifts with the change in environment. Further, no enhancement in G mode was observed at an excitation wavelength of 1064 nm. However, the defect mode (D) mode intensity enhances, and peak position is shifted by approximately 40 cm−1 to lower side at the same wavelength. The enhanced intensity of D mode at 1064 nm excitation wavelength is related to the double resonance phenomenon and shift in the particular mode occurs due to more electron phonon interactions near Fermi level. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.