In vitro selection methods have proven to be extraordinarily adept at generating a wide variety of nucleic acid-binding species (aptamers) and catalysts (ribozymes). To date, selected nucleic acids have primarily been of academic interest. However, just as antibodies have proven utility as 'universal receptors' that can be crafted against a huge variety of ligands and can be readily adapted to diagnostic assays, aptamers may yet find application in assays. A new class of research reagents, aptazymes, are not mere mimics of antibodies but in fact allow the direct transduction of molecular recognition to catalysis. Aptamers and aptazymes may prove to be uniquely useful for the development of chip arrays for the detection and quantitation of a wide range of molecules in organismal proteomes and metabolomes.