Track detectors can be dived into two main types: semiconducting detectors and wire chambers. Semiconducting detectors consist of silicon or some other kind of semiconducting material, while wire chambers are built up of gas filled chambers interspaced with wires.

Common for both types is that only charged particles can be detected. Neutral particles (e.g. photons) traverse the tracking detectors undetected.

Track detectors are so constructed that the detected particles almost are unaffected. The particles continue out of the detector with in principle the same energy and direction they had before entering the detector.