Cantilever arrays have been used to monitor biochemical interactions and their associated stress. However, it is often necessary to passivate the underside of the cantilever to prevent unwanted ligand adsorption, and this process requires tedious optimization. Here, we show a way to immobilize membrane receptors on nanomechanical cantilevers so that they can function without passivating the underlying surface. Using equilibrium theory, we quantitatively describe the mechanical responses of vancomycin, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 antigens and coagulation factor VIII captured on the cantilever in the presence of competing stresses from the top and bottom cantilever surfaces. We show that the area per receptor molecule on the cantilever surface influences ligand-receptor binding and plays an important role on stress. Our results offer a new way to sense biomolecules and will aid in the creation of ultrasensitive biosensors.