Individual nanotubes made of carbon, boron nitride, iron, silicon, or other materials have properties such as high strength, toughness, electrical and thermal conductivity, and light weight that cannot be matched by conventional materials. Nanotubes also change their properties in response to external fields and change one type of energy into another, which are useful for design. This article explores three main steps in exploiting responsive materials based on nanotubes: nanotube synthesis, macroscale material fabrication, and incorporation into device structures for novel applications. Nanotubes are always synthesized as individual particles in the form of powders, smoke particles, or aligned forests. To be industrially important, nanotubes generally must be processed to form derivative materials such as functionalized/coated powders and forests and macroscale intermediate materials such as sheets, ribbon, and yarn. The processed nanotubes are then used to develop responsive materials and devices that are able to resist, react to, or generate energy from their environment. This article provides background information and ideas on how to develop nanotube responsive materials for everyday use.