Remarkable progress has recently been made in the synthesis and characterization of engineered nanoparticles for imaging and treatment of cancers, resulting in several promising candidates in clinical trials. Despite these advances, clinical applications of nanoparticle-based therapeutic/imaging agents remain limited by biological, immunological, and translational barriers. In order to overcome the existing status quo in drug delivery, there is a need for open and frank discussion in the nanomedicine community on what is needed to make qualitative leaps toward translation. In this Nano Focus, we present the main discussion topics and conclusions from a recent workshop: "Mechanisms and Barriers in Nanomedicine". The focus of this informal meeting was on biological, toxicological, immunological, and translational aspects of nanomedicine and approaches to move the field forward productively. We believe that these topics reflect the most important issues in cancer nanomedicine.