In vitro selection can be used to generate nucleic acid binding species (aptamers) and catalysts (ribozymes) that can recognize a variety of molecules. Because nucleic acid function is largely derived from readily tabulated secondary structures, it has proven possible to engineer aptamers and ribozymes to function as biosensors. Labeling nucleic acids with reporter molecules has yielded simple antibody substitutes, but by relying on ligand-dependent conformational changes it has also proven possible to generate biosensors that can recognize and specifically report the presence of ligands in homogenous solution. It may prove possible to generate signaling aptamers and allosteric ribozymes (aptazymes) that are responsive to a large fraction of an organismal proteome or metabolome using automated methods. Nucleic acid biosensor arrays for non-nucleic acid targets could likely be generated with the same facility as DNA chips.