The properties of gold nanomaterials are particularly of interest to many researchers, since they show unique physiochemical properties such as optical adsorption of specific wavelength of light, high electrical conductance with rich surface electrons, and facile surface modification with sulfhydryl groups. These properties have facilitated the use of gold nanomaterials in the development of various hybrid systems for biosensors and molecular diagnostics. Combined with various synthetic materials such as fluorescence dyes, polymers, oligonucleotides, graphene oxides (GO), and quantum dots (QDs), the gold-based hybrid nanomaterials offer multi-functionalities in molecular detection with high specificity and sensitivity. These two aspects result in the increase of detection speed as well as the lower detection limits, having shown that this diagnosis method is more effective than other conventional ones. In this review, we have highlighted various examples of nanomaterials for biosensing and molecular diagnostics. The gold-based hybrid systems are categorized by three distinct detection approaches, in which include (1) optical, such as surface plasmon resonance (SPR), RAMAN, and surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), (2) fluorescence, such as förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) and nanomaterial surface energy transfer (NSET), and (3) electrochemical, such as potentiometic, amperometric, and conductometric. Each example provides the detailed mechanism of molecular detection as well as the supporting experimental result with the limit of detection (LOD). Lastly, future perspective on novel development of gold-based hybrid nanomaterials is discussed as well as their challenges. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.