The advances of nanomaterials have provided exciting technologies and novel materials for protein detection, based on the unique properties associated with nanoscale phenomena such as plasmon resonance, catalysis and energy transfer. This article reviews a series of nanomaterials including nanoparticles, nanofibers, nanowires, and nanosheets, and evaluates their performances in the application for protein detection, focusing on approaches that realize ultrasensitive detection. Many of these nanomaterials were used to analyze clinically relevant protein biomarkers. Their detection in the picomolar, femtomolar or even zeptomolar regime has been realized, sometimes even with naked-eye readout. We summarize the detection methods and results according to materials and targets, review the current challenges, and discuss the solution in the context of technological integration such as combining nanomaterials with microfluidics, and classical analytical technologies.