Inorganic colloidal nanoparticles are very small, nanoscale objects with inorganic cores that are dispersed in a solvent. Depending on the material they consist of, nanoparticles can possess a number of different properties such as high electron density and strong optical absorption (e.g. metal particles, in particular Au), photoluminescence in the form of fluorescence (semiconductor quantum dots, e.g. CdSe or CdTe) or phosphorescence (doped oxide materials, e.g. Y(2)O(3)), or magnetic moment (e.g. iron oxide or cobalt nanoparticles). Prerequisite for every possible application is the proper surface functionalization of such nanoparticles, which determines their interaction with the environment. These interactions ultimately affect the colloidal stability of the particles, and may yield to a controlled assembly or to the delivery of nanoparticles to a target, e.g. by appropriate functional molecules on the particle surface. This work aims to review different strategies of surface modification and functionalization of inorganic colloidal nanoparticles with a special focus on the material systems gold and semiconductor nanoparticles, such as CdSe/ZnS. However, the discussed strategies are often of general nature and apply in the same way to nanoparticles of other materials.