A new approach is described for delivering small interfering RNA (siRNA) into cancer cells by noncovalently complexing unmodified siRNA with pristine single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs). The complexes were prepared by simple sonication of pristine SWCNTs in a solution of siRNA, which then served both as the cargo and as the suspending agent for the SWCNTs. When complexes containing siRNA targeted to hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α) were added to cells growing in serum containing culture media, there was strong specific inhibition of cellular HIF-1α activity. The ability to obtain a biological response to SWCNT/siRNA complexes was seen in a wide variety of cancer cell types. Moreover, intratumoral administration of SWCNT-HIF-1α siRNA complexes in mice bearing MiaPaCa-2/HRE tumors significantly inhibited the activity of tumor HIF-1α. As elevated levels of HIF-1α are found in many human cancers and are associated with resistance to therapy and decreased patient survival, these results imply that SWCNT/siRNA complexes may have value as therapeutic agents.