The development of methods for detecting and manipulating matter at the level of individual macromolecules represents one of the key scientific advancements of recent decades. These techniques allow us to get information that is largely unobtainable otherwise, such as the magnitudes of microscopic forces, mechanistic details of catalytic processes, macromolecular population heterogeneities, and time-resolved, step-by-step observation of complex kinetics. Methods based on optical, mechanical, and ionic-conductance signal transduction are particularly developed. However, there is scope for new approaches that can broaden the range of molecular systems that we can study at this ultimate level of sensitivity and for developing new analytical methods relying on single-molecule detection. Approaches based on purely electrical detection are particularly appealing in the latter context, since they can be easily combined with microelectronics or fluidic devices on a single microchip to create large parallel assays at relatively low cost.