Separation and sorting of micron-sized particles has great importance in diagnostics, chemical and biological analyses, food and chemical processing and environmental assessment. By employing the unique characteristics of microscale flow phenomena, various techniques have been established for fast and accurate separation and sorting of microparticles in a continuous manner. The advancements in microfluidics enable sorting technologies that combine the benefits of continuous operation with small-sized scale suitable for manipulation and probing of individual particles or cells. Microfluidic sorting platforms require smaller sample volume, which has several benefits in terms of reduced cost of reagents, analysis time and less invasiveness to patients for sample extraction. Additionally, smaller size of device together with lower fabrication cost allows massive parallelization, which makes high-throughput sorting possible. Both passive and active separation and sorting techniques have been reported in literature. Passive techniques utilize the interaction between particles, flow field and the channel structure and do not require external fields. On the other hand, active techniques make use of external fields in various forms but offer better performance. This paper provides an extensive review of various passive and active separation techniques including basic theories and experimental details. The working principles are explained in detail, and performances of the devices are discussed. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.