Following a brief introduction to the principle of fluorescent PET (photoinduced electron transfer) sensors and switches, the outputs of laboratories in various countries from the past year or two are categorized and critically discussed. Emphasis is placed on the molecular design and the experimental outcomes in terms of target-induced fluorescence enhancements and input/output wavelengths. The handling of single targets takes up a major fraction of the review, but the extension to multiple targets is also illustrated. Conceptually new channels of investigation are opened up by the latter approach, e.g. ‘lab-on-a-molecule’ systems and molecular keypad locks. The growing trends of theoretically-fortified design and intracellular application are pointed out.