Making contacts to nanostructures with atomic precision is an important process in the bottom-up fabrication and characterization of electronic nanodevices. Existing contacting techniques use top-down lithography and chemical etching, but lack atomic precision and introduce the possibility of contamination. Here, we report that a field-induced emission process can be used to make local contacts onto individual nanowires and nanotubes with atomic spatial precision. The gold nano-islands are deposited onto nanostructures precisely by using a scanning tunneling microscope tip, which provides a clean and controllable method to ensure both electrically conductive and mechanically reliable contacts. To demonstrate the wide applicability of the technique, nano-contacts are fabricated on silicide atomic wires, carbon nanotubes, and copper nanowires. The electrical transport measurements are performed in situ by utilizing the nanocontacts to bridge the nanostructures to the transport probes. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.