Many types of sensors have been developed to detect chemical species in the gas phase. These include optical based on color change or fluoresence, surface acoustic wave (SAW) devices, electrochemical, chemoresistive/semiconductive, field effect transistors (FET), metal-insulator-semiconductor (MIS) diode devices, and many other. Among these, resistive type sensors based on ceramic oxides are particularly attractive because of their low cost, wide range of applications and potential for use in electronic nose. This article focuses mainly on the resistive/semiconductive, especially the surface conductive ceramic oxide type gas sensors. The main emphasis is on the basic principles involving gas-solid reactions. Also discussed are selected applications with an emphasis on sensor design issues. Since SnO2 can be used as a model system for oxide-based sensors, most of the discussions focuses on this system, though other systems are occasionally highlighted illustrating recent developments. (C) 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers.