There is substantial literature dealing with fixed parameter algorithms for the dominating set problem on various families of graphs. In this paper, we give a kO(dk)n time algorithm for finding a dominating set of size at most k in a d-degenerated graph with n vertices. This proves that the dominating set problem is fixed-parameter tractable for degenerated graphs. For graphs that do not contain Kh as a topological minor, we give an improved algorithm for the problem with running time (O(h))hkn. For graphs which are Kh-minor-free, the running time is further reduced to (O(log h))hk/2n. Fixed-parameter tractable algorithms that are linear in the number of vertices of the graph were previously known only for planar graphs. For the families of graphs discussed above, the problem of finding an induced cycle of a given length is also addressed. For every fixed H and k, we show that if an H-minor-free graph G with n vertices contains an induced cycle of size k, then such a cycle can be found in O(n) expected time as well as in O(n log n) worst-case time. Some results are stated concerning the (im)possibility of establishing linear time algorithms for the more general family of degenerated graphs.