The single was a massive commercial success. It held the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks, from August 27 to November 26, 1994. At the time, the song tied a record for the most weeks at number one that had been set by Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" in late 1992 and early 1993. Boyz II Men would later break their own record in 1996 with "One Sweet Day", a collaboration with Mariah Carey, which remained at number one on the Hot 100 for 16 weeks beginning in December 1995. "I'll Make Love to You" also topped the U.S. R&B and adult contemporary charts for nine and three weeks, respectively, in 1994. It sold 1,627,000 copies domestically, earning a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of over one million copies.. In Canada, the song reached number one on September 26, retaining the position for two weeks. "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow then held the top position for four weeks, but on November 2, "I'll Make Love to You" returned to number one for an additional week before beginning its final descent from the chart.
Outside North America, "I'll Make Love to You" also experienced major chart success. It reached number one in New Zealand on September 11, keeping that position for four weeks before "Endless Love" by Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey moved to number one. In Australia, the song reached the top on October 16 and stayed there for two weeks, losing its spot at number one to Silverchair's "Tomorrow". On both charts, the song stayed in the top 50 for 22 weeks. Across Europe, the song reached the top 10 in most countries, but fell outside this range in Germany and Finland, where it peaked at 20 and 12, respectively. In the UK, the song debuted at number 6 on the Official Singles Chart on August 28 before moving up to number 5 the next week, its peak position. It stayed in the top 40 for a further eight weeks. In Ireland, the song was slightly less successful, reaching number 7 and spending 10 weeks on the chart.
The music video featured a woman and a man. The man, whose name is Duane, installs a security system in the woman's house. She later invites him to have a drink, but he's busy. It turns out that she really likes him, likewise as he likes her too. While reading the letter, he begins to slowly take off his clothes, right at the moment in the song where the lyrics say he should. In the end, he writes her a letter, she receives it and reads it: it is a love letter, with the song lyrics.
Duane Martin was also featured in the music video.
Main characters, Shawn and Gus of USA Network's Psych, played by James Roday and Dulé Hill respectively, perform the song during the end credits of the episode "Shawn vs. The Red Phantom" with Juliet (Maggie Lawson) on background vocals.
The lyrics "I'll make love to you like you want me to / And I'll hold you tight, baby, all" are sung by a group of penguins in the animated film Happy Feet (2006).