High-performance artificial muscles have been produced from fibers having highly anisotropic thermal expansion. Inserting twist into these precursor fibers enables thermally-driven torsional actuation and can cause the formation of helical coils. Such coiled structures provide giant-stroke tensile actuation exceeding the 20% in-vivo contraction of natural muscles. This contraction is highly reversible, with over one million cycles demonstrated, and can occur without the hysteresis that plagues competing shape-memory and piezoelectric muscles. Several materials and composites are investigated, including low-cost, commercially-available muscle precursors, potentially facilitating thermally-responsive textiles that change porosity to provide wearer comfort.