Separation and regeneration of ultrafine catalysts in reaction system still remain challenging. In this study, we demonstrate a simple route to recycle gold nanoparticle (Au NP) catalysts by alternating surface wettability. Hydrophilic Au NPs protected with 3-mercapto-1,2-propanediol (MPD) were applied to catalyze the reduction of 4-nitrophenol (4-NP) using sodium borohydride as reductant, and were then separated from the suspension by interfacial ligand exchange with a toluene solution containing triphenylphosphine (TPP), led to amphiphilic Janus Au NPs with both MPD and TPP ligands at the toluene-water interface. The catalyst was regenerated by a reversible ligand exchange with a MPD aqueous solution. Experiments show that interfacial ligand exchange between phosphines and thiols on gold surface is reversible, although the forward and backward rates are different. As a result, the Au NP catalyst capped with MPD exhibited an excellent catalytic activity with an apparent rate constant (k) of 2.79 min−1, and the performance could be maintained for more than 10 regeneration cycles. The facile conversion between hydrophilic and amphiphilic Janus Au NPs provides a new pathway to explore monophasic and multiphasic reactions with convenient catalyst separation and regeneration.