© The Author(s) 2017. This study investigates the immune responses induced by metal-filled single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) under in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo settings. Either empty amino-functionalized CNTs [SWCNT-NH 2 (1)] or samarium chloride-filled amino-functionalized CNTs with [SmCl 3 @SWCNT-mAb (3)] or without [SmCl 3 @SWCNT-NH 2 (2)] Cetuximab functionalization were tested. Conjugates were added to RAW 264.7 or PBMC cells in a range of 1 μg/ml to 100 μg/ml for 24 h. Cell viability and IL-6/TNFα production were determined by flow cytometry and ELISA. Additionally, the effect of SWCNTs on the number of T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes and monocytes within the PBMC subpopulations was evaluated by immunostaining and flow cytometry. The effect on monocyte number in living mice was assessed after tail vein injection (150 μg of each conjugate per mouse) at 1, 7 and 13 days post-injection. Overall, our study showed that all the conjugates had no significant effect on cell viability of RAW 264.7 but conjugates 1 and 3 led to a slight increase in IL-6/TNFα. All the conjugates resulted in significant reduction in monocyte/macrophage cell numbers within PBMCs in a dose-dependent manner. Interestingly, monocyte depletion was not observed in vivo, suggesting their suitability for future testing in the field of targeted radiotherapy in mice.