Carbon nanotubes have attracted extensive attention in the past few years because of their appealing mechanical and electronic properties. Yarns made through spinning multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) have been reported. Here we study the application of these yarns as electrochemical actuators, and as force sensors. MWNT yarns are mechanically strong with tensile strengths reaching one GPa. When charge is stored in the yarns they change in length. This is thought to be because of a combination of electrostatic and quantum chemical effects. We report strains up to 0.6 %. The charged yarns can also generate current and change in voltage in response to a change in the applied tension. Electrostatic and quantum effects contributing to actuation are introduced along with the effect of the yarn geometry on actuation and other contributing factors.