Nowadays, manufactured nano-particles of aluminum oxide (nano-alumina) have been widely used in many fields with the rapidly developed nano-technology, but their basic toxic data are scarce. It is believed that the smaller nano-particles are able to easily cross the bio-membrane and quickly reach cellular compartments rather than micro-size particles, thus showing more toxic effects. The aim of this study was to compare the toxicity of nano- and micro- particles of alumina for detecting particle size related toxicity, and to compare the toxicity of nano-alumina and nano-carbon with the same particle size for determining chemical composition related toxicity. The present study revealed that nano-particles of alumina were much toxic than micro-alumina particles, indicating a particle size related toxicity; and were much more toxic than nano-carbon particles as well, manifesting a chemical related toxicity. The mechanism might be concerned with the involvement of the lysosomes. In conclusion, toxicity of nano-alumina is a combination of the toxic effects of its particle size and chemical composition.