DNA molecules with superior flexibility, affinity and programmability have garnered considerable attention for the controllable assembly of nanoparticles (NPs). By controlling the density, length and sequences of DNA on NPs, the configuration of NP assemblies can be rationally designed. The specific recognition of DNA enables changes to be made to the spatial structures of NP assemblies, resulting in differences in tailorable optical signals. Comprehensive information on the fabrication of DNA-driven NP assemblies would be beneficial for their application in biosensing and bioimaging. This review analyzes the progress of DNA-driven NP assemblies, and discusses the tunable configurations determined by the structural parameters of DNA skeletons. The collective optical properties, such as chirality, fluorescence and surface enhanced Raman resonance (SERS), etc., of DNA-driven NP assemblies are explored, and engineered tailorable optical properties of these spatial structures are achieved. We discuss the development of DNA-directed NP assemblies for the quantification of DNA, toxins, and heavy metal ions, and demonstrate their potential application in the biosensing and bioimaging of tumor markers, RNA, living metal ions and phototherapeutics. We hihghlight possible challenges in the development of DNA-driven NP assemblies, and further direct potential prospects in the practical applications of macroscopical materials and photonic devices.