Nanostructured lipid carrier (NLC) is second generation smarter drug carrier system having solid matrix at room temperature. This carrier system is made up of physiological, biodegradable and biocompatible lipid materials and surfactants and is accepted by regulatory authorities for application in different drug delivery systems. The availability of many products in the market in short span of time reveals the success story of this delivery system. Since the introduction of the first product, around 30 NLC preparations are commercially available. NLC exhibit superior advantages over other colloidal carriers viz., nanoemulsions, polymeric nanoparticles, liposomes, SLN etc. and thus, have been explored to more extent in pharmaceutical technology. The whole set of unique advantages such as enhanced drug loading capacity, prevention of drug expulsion, leads to more flexibility for modulation of drug release and makes NLC versatile delivery system for various routes of administration. The present review gives insights on the definitions and characterization of NLC as colloidal carriers including the production techniques and suitable formulations. This review paper also highlights the importance of NLC in pharmaceutical applications for the various routes of drug delivery viz., topical, oral, pulmonary, ocular and parenteral administration and its future perspective as a pharmaceutical carrier.