Rotors are recalled as early molecular devices that transmit information through changes in conformation. Specific cases involve bipyridyls and biphenyls in which the biaryl bond acts as a fulcrum to relay applied stresses from one site to another. New types of molecular stress encountered by encapsulated molecules are identified--including bending, straightening, squeezing, grinding and compression. For flexible molecules in reversibly formed capsules a fluid model of recognition is proposed that is neither lock-and-key nor induced fit. Instead, the guest assumes the shape that best fills the available space, even if contortions to higher energy conformations are required. For encapsulated alkanes, a delicate balance of attraction and repulsion exists when the size of a guest molecule approaches the space available to it. The complexes are analyzed by both NMR and computational methods and detailed maps of the host-guest interfaces in solution are provided. The reversible transition of an encapsulated alkane between a compressed, coiled conformation and a relaxed, extended one is described. The system is a spring-loaded molecular device under the control of acids and bases that offers an alternative to the rotors of current molecular machinery.