In the past decade gold nanoparticle-nucleic acid conjugates became progressively important for biomedical applications. Fluorophores attached to nucleic acid-gold nanoparticle conjugates have opened up a new era of biological sensing. The most promising advancement in this field was the invention of the so-called 'nano-flare' systems. These systems are capable of detecting specific endocellular targets such as mRNAs, microRNAs or small molecules in real time. In this minireview, we discuss the current progress in the field of DNA-nanoparticles as sensors, their properties, stability, cellular uptake and cytotoxicity.