© 2015 Elsevier B.V. Infectious diseases affect the daily lives of millions of people all around the world, and are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, mostly in the developing world. Although most of these major infectious diseases are treatable, the early identification of individuals requiring treatment remains a major issue. The incidence of these diseases would be reduced if rapid diagnostic tests were widely available at the community and primary care level in low-resource settings. Strong research efforts are thus being focused on replacing standard clinical diagnostic methods, such as the invasive detection techniques (biopsy or endoscopy) or expensive diagnostic and monitoring methods, by affordable and sensitive tests based on novel biomarkers. The development of new methods that are needed includes solid-phase separation techniques. In this context, the integration of magnetic particles within bioassays and biosensing devices is very promising since they greatly improve the performance of a biological reaction. The diagnosis of clinical samples with magnetic particles can be easily achieved without pre-enrichment, purification or pretreatment steps often required for standard methods, simplifying the analytical procedures. The biomarkers can be specifically isolated and preconcentrated from complex biological matrixes by magnetic actuation, increasing specificity and the sensitivity of the assay. This review addresses these promising features of the magnetic particles for the detection of biomarkers in emerging technologies related with infectious diseases affecting global health, such as malaria, influenza, dengue, tuberculosis or HIV.