There are machine operating regimes in which rotor/stator interactions may lead to problematic rotor dynamic behavior. For example, dynamic heat sources arising from seals, bearings and other rubbing stator components may cause rotor thermal bend instability. In active magnetic bearing (AMB) systems, the rotor may experience forward and backward whirl rubs with touchdown bearings (TDBs). In abnormal cases, rotor transient and bounce interactions with such bearings may involve highly localized and short duration contacts. This paper discusses certain contact phenomena that may occur in passive and active systems. For example, the rub induced spiral behavior arises from a combination of unbalance and a thermal input that moves slowly around the rotor, typically in passive rotor-bearing systems. However, the instability can be regarded as if arising from a closed-loop feedback system. Hence it is possible to analyze the phenomenon using techniques that have been developed for active control systems. Rotors levitated by AMBs are truly active, but there are fundamental issues that may arise when contact with TDBs occurs. AMB control and contact interactions are discussed together with the benefits for making the TDB an active element. The reason for this lies in the potential ability to control the contact dynamics and associated mechanical and thermal stresses. A prototype system is described.