Oxygen consumption is a fundamental component of metabolic networks, mitochondrial function, and global carbon cycling. To date there is no method available that allows for replicate measurements on attached and unattached biological samples without compensation for extraneous oxygen leaking into the system. Here we present the Respiratory Detection System, which is compatible with virtually any biological sample. The RDS can be used to measure oxygen uptake in microliter-scale volumes with a reversibly sealed sample chamber, which contains a porphyrin-based oxygen sensor. With the RDS, one can maintain a diffusional seal for up to three hours, allowing for the direct measurement of respiratory function of samples with fast or slow metabolic rates. The ability to easily measure oxygen uptake in small volumes with small populations or dilute samples has implications in cell biology, environmental biology, and clinical diagnostics.