An apparatus and method for minimally invasive surgery. The apparatus can comprise a tool which includes a multi-functioning end effector for insertion into a patient, a user control adapted for use by the surgeon external of the patient, and an intermediate section between the end effector and the user control to translate control instructions from the user control through an actuating mechanism to operate the end effector in one of at least two different functioning states. No instrument exchange is necessary to change between states. The actuation mechanism could be a manually operated mechanical mechanism. Alternatively, it could be partially or fully electromechanical or electrical or electronic. According to one aspect, the end effector is a rigid link mechanism. According to another aspect, the end effector could be a compliant mechanism, at least in part. Another aspect of the invention includes the ability of the end effector to have at least some articulation in addition to grasping and cutting functions.