Novel drug delivery and biosensing devices have the potential to increase the efficacy of drug therapy by providing physicians and patients the ability to precisely control key therapy parameters. Such "intelligent" systems can enable control of dose amount and the time, rate, and location of drug delivery. We have developed and demonstrated the operation of an electrothermal mechanism to precisely control the delivery of drugs and exposure of biosensors. These microchip devices contain an array of individually sealed and actuated reservoirs, each capped by a thin metal membrane comprised of either gold or multiple layers of titanium and platinum. The passage of a threshold level of electric current through the membrane causes it to disintegrate, thereby exposing the protected contents (drugs or biosensors) of the reservoir to the surrounding environment. This paper describes the theory and experimental characterization of the electrothermal method and includes in vitro release results for a model compound.