Solid lipid nanoparticles (SLN) introduced in 1991 represent an alternative carrier system to traditional colloidal carriers, such as emulsions, liposomes and polymeric micro- and nanoparticles. SLN combine advantages of the traditional systems but avoid some of their major disadvantages. This paper reviews the present state of the art regarding production techniques for SLN, drug incorporation, loading capacity and drug release, especially focusing on drug release mechanisms. Relevant issues for the introduction of SLN to the pharmaceutical market, such as status of excipients, toxicity/tolerability aspects and sterilization and long-term stability including industrial large scale production are also discussed. The potential of SLN to be exploited for the different administration routes is highlighted. References of the most relevant literature published by various research groups around the world are provided.