A deep, water-soluble cavitand extracts a variety of neutral hydrophobic species into its cavity. Flexible species such as n-alkanes tumble rapidly on the NMR time scale inside the cavity, but this motion is slowed for bulkier guests. Long, rigid guests such as p-substituted aromatics are either static or only tumble at elevated temperatures via flexing motions of the cavitand. Strong selectivity in recognition of long rigid guests is seen. The binding of neutral guests occurs via the classical hydrophobic effect; the process is entropically favored, as shown by isothermal titration calorimetry measurements. Binding affinities are generally on the order of 10(4)-10(5) M(-1). The extent of the hydrophobic stabilization is shown by the binding of long trimethylammonium salts, which bind the alkyl chain in the cavity, rather than the NMe3+ group. Dynamic NMR studies show that self-exchange of neutral guests is independent of guest concentration, and most likely occurs via rate-determining unfolding of the cavitand. In the absence of guests, the cavitand exists in a dimeric velcrand structure.