Insufficient contact of inherently highly active nucleic acid delivery systems with target cells is a primary reason for their often observed limited efficacy. Physical methods of targeting can overcome this limitation and reduce the risk of undesired side effects due to non-target site delivery. The authors and others have developed a novel means of physical targeting, exploiting magnetic force acting on nucleic acid vectors associated with magnetic particles in order to mediate the rapid contact of vectors with target cells. Here, the principles of magnetic drug and nucleic acid delivery are reviewed, and the facts and potentials of the technique for research and therapeutic applications are discussed. Magnetically enhanced nucleic acid delivery - magnetofection - is universally applicable to viral and non-viral vectors, is extraordinarily rapid, simple and yields saturation level transfection at low dose in vitro. The method is useful for site-specific vector targeting in vivo. Exploiting the full potential of the technique requires an interdisciplinary research effort in magnetic field physics, magnetic particle chemistry, pharmaceutical formulation and medical application.