The use of chemotherapeutic drugs in cancer therapy is often limited by problems with administration such as insolubility, inefficient biodistribution, lack of selectivity, and inability of the drug to cross cellular barriers. To overcome these limitations, various types of drug delivery systems have been explored, and recently, carbon nanotube (CNT) materials have also garnered attention in the area of drug delivery. In this study, we describe the preparation, characterization, and in vitro testing of a new ultrashort single-walled carbon nanotube (US-tube)-based drug delivery system for the treatment of cancer. In particular, the encapsulation of cisplatin (CDDP), a widely-used anticancer drug, within US-tubes has been achieved, and the resulting CDDP@US-tube material characterized by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM), energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and inductively-coupled optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). Dialysis studies performed in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) at 37 degrees C have demonstrated that CDDP release from CDDP@US-tubes can be controlled (retarded) by wrapping the CDDP@US-tubes with Pluronic-F108 surfactant. Finally, the anticancer activity of pluronic-wrapped CDDP@US-tubes has been evaluated against two different breast cancer cell lines, MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231, and found to exhibit enhanced cytotoxicity over free CDDP after 24 h. These studies have laid the foundation for developing US-tube-based delivery of chemotherapeutics, with drug release mainly limited to within cancer cells only. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.