The program was originally broadcast in black-and-white, but when a prime-time version began in October 1966, both it and the daytime version were broadcast in color; the daytime version thus became the first ABC daytime series to be broadcast in color on a regular basis.Typically, a bachelorette would question three bachelors, who were hidden from her view; at the end of the questioning period, she would choose one to go out with on a date paid for by the show.Generally the bachelorette would ask questions written in advance on cards to each of the three hidden bachelors.

Beginning in 1966, The Dating Game was often paired with The Newlywed Game.

This was especially true when the two shows entered syndication; in fact, in 1996 the revivals of both The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game were sold as a package called "The Dating-Newlywed Hour".

After the game ended the bachelor/bachelorette chose one panelist based on looks and one based on personality, then was prompted to choose either of the two.

In the case the bachelor/bachelorette chose the same person for both looks and personality, they won a cash prize of $500.

To determine the "looks" portion, the bachelor/bachelorette observed their potential dates (another change not seen on any Dating Game series beforehand) for several seconds; the three players wore noise-cancelling headphones so they could not hear what the bachelor/bachelorette was saying about them and they identified by numbers.

The statement round was used to determine the "personality" portion.When chosen, a new statement replaced the old statement and the potential date explained the reason why that fact pertained to them.Play continued until time expired, after which the bachelor/bachelorette gave their choice.When the original format returned to the syndicated revival in 1997, these rules were readopted but there was more of a variety between bachelors and bachelorettes.For the first season of the 1996 revival, The Dating Game used a different format.When the show was revived with a different format in 1996, Brad Sherwood was named as its host.