We report the discovery of a large (15 kpc diameter) Hα+[NII] emission-line disk in the elliptical galaxy IC 1459, showing weak spiral structure. The line flux peaks strongly at the nucleus and is more concentrated than the stellar continuum. The major axis of the disk of ionized gas coincides with that of the stellar body of the galaxy. The mass of the ionized gas is estimated to be ~ 1 105 M⊙, less than 1% of the total mass of gas present in IC 1459. The total gas mass of 4 107 M⊙ has been estimated from the dust mass derived from a broad-band colour index image and the IRAS data. We speculate that the presence of dust and gas in IC 1459 is a signature of a merger event.