- We make a distinction between the spectroscopic and the mesoscopic conductance of a closed ring. We show that the latter is not simply related to the Landauer conductance of the corresponding open system. A new ingredient in the theory is related to the non-universal structure of the perturbation matrix which is generic for quantum chaotic systems. These structures may create bottlenecks that suppress the diffusion in energy space, and hence the rate of energy absorption. The resulting effect is not merely quantitative: for a ring–dot system we find that a smaller Landauer conductance implies a smaller spectroscopic conductance, while the mesoscopic conductance increases. Our considerations open the way towards a realistic theory of dissipation in closed mesoscopic ballistic devices.