Remote measurement of the physiology, behaviour and energetic status of free-living animals is made possible by a variety of techniques that we refer to collectively as 'biotelemetry'. This set of tools ranges from transmitters that send their signals to receivers up to a few kilometers away to those that send data to orbiting satellites and, more frequently, to devices that log data. They enable researchers to document, for long uninterrupted periods, how undisturbed organisms interact with each other and their environment in real time. In spite of advances enabling the monitoring of many physiological and behavioural variables across a range of taxa of various sizes, these devices have yet to be embraced widely by the ecological community. Our review suggests that this technology has immense potential for research in basic and applied animal ecology. Efforts to incorporate biotelemetry into broader ecological research programs should yield novel information that has been challenging to collect historically from free-ranging animals in their natural environments. Examples of research that would benefit from biotelemetry include the assessment of animal responses to different anthropogenic perturbations and the development of life-time energy budgets.