There is an enormous demand for chemical sensors for many areas and disciplines. High sensitivity and ease of operation are two main issues for sensor development. Fluorescence techniques can easily fulfill these requirements and therefore fluorescent-based sensors appear as one of the most promising candidates for chemical sensing. However, the development of sensors is not trivial; material science, molecular recognition and device implementation are some of the aspects that play a role in the design of sensors. The development of fluorescent sensing materials is increasingly captivating the attention of the scientists because its implementation as a truly sensory system is straightforward. This critical review shows the use of polymers, sol–gels, mesoporous materials, surfactant aggregates, quantum dots, and glass or gold surfaces, combined with different chemical approaches for the development of fluorescent sensing materials. Representative examples have been selected and they are commented here.