Abstract Nickel ferrite, a p-type semiconducting oxide with an inverse spinel structure has been used as a gas sensor to selectively detect chlorine in air. This compound was prepared by two different routes namely, the citrate and co-precipitation method and sensor properties of the resulting compounds from both the methods were compared. X-ray diffraction was used to confirm the structure. The gas sensing characteristics were obtained by measuring the sensitivity as a function of various controlling factors like dopant, concentration of the dopant, operating temperature, concentration of the gas and finally the response time. The sensitivity to chlorine has been compared with that of other interfering gases. A probable explanation has been proposed to explain the selective sensitivity to oxidising gases like chlorine.