This thesis proposes a framework for haptic devices interacting with virtual environments. As application of the theoretical results a haptic device for the surgical training of hysteroscopy, a gynecologic intervention, is presented. Surgery simulators, which can be described as 'flight simulators for surgeons', comprise a virtual reality for modeling and visualization of organs, and the haptic device: While the surgeon interactively follows the scene on the computer screen, he perceives the contact forces at the tool handle of the surgical instrument. The haptic device tracks the position of the surgery tool and transforms the virtual contact forces to real forces, which can be actually felt by the surgeon. This thesis treats haptic devices with application to surgery simulators for minimally-invasive surgery. Haptic interfaces are complex mechatronic systems and show inherent trade-offs between haptic realism and system stability. Human factors play an important role, as the human operator can both stabilize or destabilize the system. The haptic perception, which can vary between individuals, as a criterion for haptic rendering quality is still not formalized. The optimization of haptic interfaces, within focus of research since 15 years ago, has remained a complex task. However, with look at the emerging applications for haptics, it has become an even more important topic. For this reason it is necessary to integrate mechanical design, control design, mechatronic elements and human factors in a unifying approach. This thesis highlights the principal trade-offs of haptic interfaces and works out design guidelines for new developments and quantitative information on where and how to optimize haptic systems. As application example a haptic interface for the simulation of hysteroscopy, a gynecologic intervention on the female uterus, has been realized as prototype. The device takes the characteristics of hysteroscopy into account and introduces features like insertion and complete removal of the surgery tool from the haptic interface. A design methodology is proposed, which combines aspects of theoretical kinematics based on Lie-Groups with integrated product development – a systematic approach for engineering tasks. The result, a novel kinematic design, has been realized as haptic interface prototype. The well-known affine parameterization for all stabilizing controllers is shown to be a well-suited tool for haptic control synthesis. It provides insights into the control trade-offs and allows to integrate human factors at controller design stage. The resulting controller, demonstrated by experimental results, can reduce parasitic effects (friction, device dynamics) close to and below the human perception threshhold, thus making the device transparent within the specified bandwidth and suitable for real-time implementation. For numerical controller representation the δ-operator is discussed. It unifies continuous and discrete time domain and has beneficial numerical properties. As there is still no standardized procedure for technical performance evaluation of haptic interfaces methods proposed in literature are summarized. In the near future a large market for haptic technology can be expected with applications from surgery-assist devices and drive-by-wire interfaces in automobiles to entertainment, which highlights the relevance of the treated topic.