Model studies of molecular recognition are reviewed with emphasis on contributions from macrocyclic chemistry. Recent developments concerning new molecular shapes are discussed. The advantages of a molecular cleft are presented. In these structures functional groups converge to create a microenvironment complementary to substrates. Specifically, di-, tri- and tetracarboxylic acids of varying sizes are shown to recognize smaller molecules of complementary shape. The new receptors function by a combination of hydrogen bonding and aryl stacking interactions. Substrates include amines, acids, amino acids, metal ions and nucleotide components. The relationship between functional group orientation and catalysis is explored and two systems capable of concerted acid/base catalysis are introduced.