Great care has been paid to the biointerface between a bulk material and the biological environment, which plays a key role in the optimized performance of medical devices. In this work, we report a new superhydrophilic adsorbate, called l-cysteine betaine (Cys-b), having branched zwitterionic groups that give rise to surfaces and nanoparticles with enhanced chemical stability, biofouling resistance, and inertness to environmental changes. Cys-b was synthesized from the amphoteric sulfur-containing amino acid, l-cysteine (Cys), by quaternization of its amino group. Gold surfaces modified with Cys-b exhibited prominent repellence against the nonspecific adsorption of proteins, bacteria, and fibroblast cells. In addition, Cys-b existed in zwitterionic form over a wide pH range (i.e., pH 3.4 to 10.8), and showed excellent suppression in photoinduced oxidation on gold substrates. Furthermore, the modification of hollow Ag@Au nanoshells with Cys-b gave rise to nanoparticles with excellent colloidal stability and resistance to coordinative interaction with Cu2+. Taken together, the unique features of Cys-b offer a new nanoscale coating for use in a wide spectrum of applications.