Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) was originally conceived as a method for measuring atomic-scale surface topography. Over the last two decades, it has blossomed into an array of techniques that can be used to obtain a rich variety of information about nanoscale material properties. With the exception of friction measurements, these techniques have traditionally depended on tip—sample interactions directed normal to the sample's surface. Recently, researchers have explored several effects arising from interactions parallel to surfaces, usually by deliberately applying a modulated lateral displacement. In fact, some parallel motion is ubiquitous to cantilever-based SPM, due to the tilt of the cantilever. Recent studies, performed in contact, noncontact, and intermittent-contact modes, provide new insights into properties such as structural anisotropy, lateral interactions with surface features, nanoscale shear stress and contact mechanics, and in-plane energy dissipation. The understanding gained from interpreting this behavior has consequences for all cantilever-based scanning probe microscopies.