Nanostructured particulate materials are expected to revolutionize diagnostics and the delivery of therapeutics for healthcare. To date, chemistry-derived solutions have been the major focus in the design of materials to control interactions with biological systems. Only recently has control over a new set of physical parameters, including size, shape, and rigidity, been explored to optimize the biological response and the in vivo performance of nanoengineered delivery vectors. This Review highlights the methods used to manipulate the physical properties of particles and the relevance of these physical properties to cellular and circulatory interactions. Finally, the importance of future work to synergistically tailor both physical and chemical properties of particulate materials is discussed, with the aim of improving control over particle interactions in the biological domain.