RNA G-quadruplexes (G4s) play important roles in translational regulation, mRNA processing events and gene expression. Therefore, a fluorescent probe that is capable of efficiently recognizing RNA G-quadruplex structures among other RNA forms is highly desirable. In this study, a water-soluble fluorogenic dye (i.e., Thioflavin T (ThT)) was employed to recognize RNA G-quadruplex structures using UV–Vis absorption spectra, fluorescence spectra and emission lifetime experiments. By stacking on the G-tetrad, the ThT probe exhibited highly specific recognition of RNA G-quadruplex structures with striking fluorescence enhancement compared with other RNA forms. The specific binding demonstrates that ThT is an efficient fluorescence sensor that can distinguish G4 and non-G4 RNA structures.