Unlike traditional pressure sensitive adhesives, the natural setal arrays of gecko lizards achieve dry adhesion with stiff, keratinous material. This remarkable property has inspired a new class of adhesive and high friction microstructures composed of stiff materials that, like natural setae, have an elastic modulus greater than 1 GPa. In contrast to softer materials, such as rubber and low molecular weight acrylates, stiff materials have the advantage of wear and creep resistance and represent a wide range of polymers, metals, and ceramics that include materials that are also temperature resistant and biocompatible. This work presents progress in the design and fabrication of synthetic gecko adhesives with particular attention to the principles of contact mechanics and elasticity that are essential in formulating accurate design criteria.