This study describes the synthesis of fluorescent polydopamine dots (PDs) through hydroxyl radical-induced degradation of polydopamine nanoparticles. The decomposition of polydopamine nanoparticles to fluorescent PDs was confirmed using transmission electron microscopy and dark-field microscopy. The analysis of PDs by using laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry revealed that the PDs consisted of dopamine, 5,6-dihydroxyindole, and trihydroxyindole units. Oligomerization and self-assembly of these units produced a broad adsorption band, resulting in an excitation-wavelength-dependent emission behavior. The maximal fluorescence of PDs appeared at 440 nm with a quantum yield of 1.2%. The coordination between the catechol groups of PDs and ferric ions (Fe(3+)) quenched the fluorescence of PDs; the limit of detection at a signal-to-noise ratio of 3 for Fe(3+) was determined to be 0.3 μM. The presence of pyrophosphate switched on the fluorescence of the PD-Fe(3+) complexes. Compared to the other reported methods for sensing Fe(3+), PDs provided simple, low-cost, and reusable detection of Fe(3+).