This critical review describes some developments on the chemistry of fluorescent and colorimetric molecular probes or chemosensors, based on polyamines and associated compounds having oxygen and/or sulfur as donor atoms. The reported systems are essentially based on some selected published work in this field in the last five years, and in the work developed by the authors from 2000 onwards. Some interesting properties beyond sensing molecules, ions or/and cations by fluorescence, colorimetry as well as by MALDI-TOF MS spectrometry can arise from these systems. A short brief on different examples activated by PET (photoinduced electron transfer), ICT (internal charge transfer) and EET (electronic energy transfer) phenomena will be provided. Finally the introduction of bio-inspired compounds derived from emissive amino acid or short peptide systems and nanoparticle devices to detect metal ions will be reviewed (202 references).