Nano-sized magnetic particles are increasingly being used across a wide spectrum of biomedical fields. Upon functionalization to enable specific binding, magnetic particles and their targets can be conveniently positioned in vitro and in vivo by the distal application of magnetic fields. Furthermore, such particles can be magnetically heated after reaching their in vivo targets, thus inducing localized cell death that has a considerable therapeutic value in, for instance, cancer therapy. In this context, innovative biomedical research has produced novel applications that have exciting clinical potential. Such applications include magnetically enhanced transfection, magnetically assisted gene therapy, magnetically induced hyperthermia and magnetic-force-based tissue engineering, and the principles and utilities of these applications will be discussed here. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.