Magnetic nanoparticles have been widely used in biomolecular separation and discrimination which coincidentally also represents the basis for most current day molecular diagnostic procedures. The specificity, affinity, and binding capacity of magnetic nanoparticles depends on their size, form, dispersion, and surface chemistry. In this review, we will briefly analyze how these factors affect biomolecular separations and focus on the use of magnetic nanoparticles in monitoring the microbial biodiversity in the environment. We found that magnetic nanoparticles are especially effective for biomolecular separations in environmental samples collected and preserved with fixatives. This feature, together with the high sample throughput capability and the generic low cost, makes magnetic nanoparticles particularly suitable for environmental microbial monitoring. Furthermore, key features that permit the optimization of magnetic nanoparticles-based separations and that can be useful in the development of new analytical procedures are also discussed.