Micromachined hotplates, membranes, filaments, and cantilevers have all been used as platforms for thermal sensing and gas detection. Compared with conventional devices, micromachined sensors are characterized by low power consumption, high sensitivity, and fast response time. Much of these gains can be attributed to the size reductions achieved by micromachining. In addition, micromachining permits easy, yet precise tailoring of the heat transfer characteristics of these devices. By simple alterations in device geometry and materials used, the relative magnitudes of radiation, convection and conduction losses and Joule heat gains can be adjusted, and in this way device response can be optimized for specific applications. The free- standing design of micromachined platforms, for example, reduces heat conduction losses to the substrate, thereby making them attractive as low-power, fast-response heaters suitable for a number of applications. However, while micromachining solves some of the heat transfer problems typical of conventionally produced devices, it introduces some of its own. These trade-offs will be discussed in the context of several micromachined thermal and gas sensors described in the literature. These include micromachined flow sensors, gas thermal conductivity sensors, pressure sensors, uncooled IR sensors, metal-oxide and catalytic/calorimetric gas sensors. Recent results obtained for a microbridge-based catalytic/calorimetric gas sensor will also be presented as a means of further illustrating the concepts of thermal design in micromachined sensors.