Lithium ion batteries are attractive power sources for the consumer electronics market and are being aggressively developed for road transportation. Nevertheless, issues with safety and reliability need to be solved prior to the large-scale uptake of these batteries. There have recently been significant development and assessment of materials with resistance to mechanical abuse, with the aims of reinforcing the battery and preventing puncturing during a crash. Most of the work on battery mechanical safety has concentrated on the external packaging of batteries, with little attention being paid to the enclosed electrolyte. We report on smart multifunctional fluids that act as both highly conductive electrolytes and intrinsic mechanical protectors for lithium ion batteries. These fluids exhibit a shear thickening effect under pressure or impact and thus demonstrate excellent resistance to crushing. Also, the fluids show higher ionic conductivities and comparable redox stability windows to the commercial liquid electrolytes. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited.