In the recent years structural health monitoring (SHM) has gathered spectacular attention in civil engineering applications. Application of such composites enable to improve the safety and performance of structures. Recent advances in nanotechnology have led to development of new family of sensors – self-sensing materials. These materials enable to create the so-called “smart concrete” exhibiting self-sensing ability. Application of selfsensing materials in cement-based materials enables to detect their own state of strain or stress reflected as a change in their electrical properties. The variation of strain or stress is associated with the variation in material’s electrical characteristics, such as resistance or impedance. Therefore, it is possible to efficiently detect and localize crack formation and propagation in selected concrete element. This review is devoted to present contemporary developments in application of nanomaterials in self-sensing cement-based composites and future directions in the field of smart structures.