Localised surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) has been exploited for two decades in analytical science and has proven to be a powerful tool for the detection of various kinds of substances including small molecules, ions, macro biomolecules and microbes. Detection can be performed by visual colour change observations, photometry or resonance light scattering. A wide range of applications have been studied in the areas of environmental, pharmaceutical and biological analysis and clinical diagnosis. In this article, some fundamental aspects and important applications involving LSPR of AuNPs are reviewed. Several inherent shortcomings of these techniques and possible strategies to circumvent them are discussed.