The recent emphasis on the development of non-viral transfection agents for gene delivery has led to new physics and chemistry-based techniques, which take advantage of charge interactions and energetic processes. One of these techniques which shows much promise for both in vitro and in vivo transfection involves the use of biocompatible magnetic nanoparticles for gene delivery. In these systems, therapeutic or reporter genes are attached to magnetic nanoparticles, which are then focused to the target site/cells via high-field/high-gradient magnets. The technique promotes rapid transfection and, as more recent work indicates, excellent overall transfection levels as well. The advantages and difficulties associated with magnetic nanoparticle-based transfection will be discussed as will the underlying physical principles, recent studies and potential future applications.