Nanotechnology is expected to be promising in many fields of medical applications, mainly in cancer treatment. While a large number of very attractive exploitations open up for the clinics, regulatory agencies are very careful in admitting new nanomaterials for human use because of their potential toxicity. The very active research on new nanomaterials that are potentially useful in medicine has not been counterbalanced by an adequate knowledge of their pharmacokinetics and toxicity. The different nanocarriers used to transport and release the active molecules to the target tissues should be treated as additives, with potential side effects of themselves or by virtue of their dissolution or aggregation inside the body. Only recently has a systematic classification of nanomaterials been proposed, posing the basis for dedicated modeling at the nanoscale level. The use of in silico methods, such as nano-QSAR and PSAR, while highly desirable to expedite and rationalize the following stages of toxicological research, are not an alternative, but an introduction to mandatory experimental work. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.