The efficacy of many therapeutic molecules could be greatly enhanced by polymer-based nanoparticle systems capable of delivering them to the direct vicinity of the cell nucleus. However, degradation of the particles and encapsulated drugs within the enzyme-rich and low-pH environments of the endo/lysosomal pathway of cells has dramatically limited the efficacy of such systems. In this paper, we discovered that small polymeric particles (<25 nm) but not larger particles (>42 nm) enter live cells via a novel mechanism that leads to trafficking outside the endo/lysosomal pathway. Sub-25 nm particles rapidly transport to the perinuclear region of cells in vesicles that never acidify. The pathway is non-degradative, cholesterol independent, and non-clathrin and non-caveolae mediated. This privileged non-acidic pathway may be general since our results are surprisingly obtained with standard latex polymer beads without addition of ligands and may, therefore, provide a promising route for drug and gene delivery using biomaterial-based nanodevices.