The development of manufacturing tools and processes capable of precisely positioning and manipulating nanoscale components and materials is still in its embryonic stage. Microactuators are emerging as important tools capable of precisely positioning and manipulating nanoscale components and materials. This paper provides a summary of the state-of-the-art in the design, fabrication, and application of microactuators for nanoscale manufacturing and assembly. Key characteristics and design models of electrothermal and electrostatic microactuators are described and compared. Specific design requirements for their functionality at the nanoscale are discussed. The results demonstrate the limitations of existing microactuator designs and key challenges associated with their design, modeling, and performance characterization for nanoscale positioning, assembly, and manipulation.