An artificial receptor has been designed to bind creatinine with a color change (chromogenic response) caused by proton transfer from one end of the receptor to the other. The receptor was synthesized and found to extract creatinine from water into chlorocarbon solvents. The color change in the organic layer is specific for creatinine relative to other organic solutes, and it is selective for creatinine relative to sodium, potassium, and ammonium ions. The chromogenic mechanism is revealed by x-ray crystal structures of creatinine, the free receptor, and the complex, showing "induced fit" binding resulting from electronic complementarity between host and guest.