Human exposure to nanoparticles is inevitable as nanoparticles become more widely used and, as a result, nanotoxicology research is now gaining attention. However, while the number of nanoparticle types and applications continues to increase, studies to characterize their effects after exposure and to address their potential toxicity are few in comparison. In the medical field in particular, nanoparticles are being utilized in diagnostic and therapeutic tools to better understand, detect, and treat human diseases. Exposure to nanoparticles for medical purposes involves intentional contact or administration; therefore, understanding the properties of nanoparticles and their effect on the body is crucial before clinical use can occur. This Review presents a summary of the in vitro cytotoxicity data currently available on three classes of nanoparticles. With each of these nanoparticles, different data has been published about their cytotoxicity due to varying experimental conditions as well as differing nanoparticle physiochemical properties. For nanoparticles to move into the clinical arena, it is important that nanotoxicology research uncovers and understands how these multiple factors influence the toxicity of nanoparticles so that their undesirable properties can be avoided.