A proper understanding of the role that molecular doping plays is essential to research on the modulation of the optical and electronic properties of graphene. The adsorption of R6G molecules onto defect-rich reduced graphene oxide nanosheets results in a shift of the Fermi energy and, consequently, a variation in the optical constants. This optical variation in the graphene nanosheets is used to develop an ultrasensitive surface plasmon resonance biosensor with a detection limit of 10-17M (0.01 fM) at the molecular level. A density functional theory calculation shows that covalent bonds were formed between the R6G molecules and the defect sites on the graphene nanosheets. Our study reveals the important role that defects play in tailoring the properties and sensor device applications of graphene materials.