Au nanoparticles with plasmon resonances in the near-infrared (NIR) region of the spectrum efficiently convert light into heat, a property useful for the photothermal ablation of cancerous tumors subsequent to nanoparticle uptake at the tumor site. A critical aspect of this process is nanoparticle size, which influences both tumor uptake and photothermal efficiency. Here, we report a direct comparative study of ∼90 nm diameter Au nanomatryoshkas (Au/SiO2/Au) and ∼150 nm diameter Au nanoshells for photothermal therapeutic efficacy in highly aggressive triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) tumors in mice. Au nanomatryoshkas are strong light absorbers with 77% absorption efficiency, while the nanoshells are weaker absorbers with only 15% absorption efficiency. After an intravenous injection of Au nanomatryoshkas followed by a single NIR laser dose of 2 W/cm(2) for 5 min, 83% of the TNBC tumor-bearing mice appeared healthy and tumor free >60 days later, while only 33% of mice treated with nanoshells survived the same period. The smaller size and larger absorption cross section of Au nanomatryoshkas combine to make this nanoparticle more effective than Au nanoshells for photothermal cancer therapy.