Dynamic response of most seismological instruments and many engineering structures to ground shaking can be represented via response of a pendulum (single-degree-of-freedom oscillator). In most studies, pendulum response is simplified by considering the input from uni-axial translational motion alone. Complete ground motion however, includes not only translational components but also rotations (tilt and torsion). In this paper, complete equations of motion for three following types of pendulum are described: (i) conventional (mass-on-rod), (ii) mass-on-spring type, and (iii) inverted (astatic), then their response sensitivities to each component of complex ground motion are examined. The results of this study show that a horizontal pendulum similar to an accelerometer used in strong motion measurements is practically sensitive to translational motion and tilt only, while inverted pendulum commonly utilized to idealize multi-degree-of-freedom systems is sensitive not only to translational components, but also to angular accelerations and tilt. For better understanding of the inverted pendulum's dynamic behavior under complex ground excitation, relative contribution of each component of motion on response variants is carefully isolated. The systematically applied loading protocols indicate that vertical component of motion may create time-dependent variations on pendulum's oscillation period; yet most dramatic impact on response is produced by the tilting (rocking) component. ?? 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.