Since the manufacture and use of nanoparticles are increasing, humans are more likely to be exposed occupationally or via consumer products and the environment. However, so far toxicity data for most manufactured nanoparticles are limited. The aim of this study was to investigate and compare different nanoparticles and nanotubes regarding cytotoxicity and ability to cause DNA damage and oxidative stress. The study was focused on different metal oxide particles (CuO, TiO2, ZnO, CuZnFe2O4, Fe3O4, Fe2O3), and the toxicity was compared to that of carbon nanoparticles and multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT). The human lung epithelial cell line A549 was exposed to the particles, and cytotoxicity was analyzed using trypan blue staining. DNA damage and oxidative lesions were determined using the comet assay, and intracellular production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was measured using the oxidation-sensitive fluoroprobe 2',7'-dichlorofluorescin diacetate (DCFH-DA). The results showed that there was a high variation among different nanoparticles concerning their ability to cause toxic effects. CuO nanoparticles were most potent regarding cytotoxicity and DNA damage. The toxicity was likely not explained by Cu ions released to the cell medium. These particles also caused oxidative lesions and were the only particles that induced an almost significant increase (p = 0.058) in intracellular ROS. ZnO showed effects on cell viability as well as DNA damage, whereas the TiO2 particles (a mix of rutile and anatase) only caused DNA damage. For iron oxide particles (Fe3O4, Fe2O3), no or low toxicity was observed, but CuZnFe2O4 particles were rather potent in inducing DNA lesions. Finally, the carbon nanotubes showed cytotoxic effects and caused DNA damage in the lowest dose tested. The effects were not explained by soluble metal impurities. In conclusion, this study highlights the in vitro toxicity of CuO nanoparticles.