OBJECTIVES We review important aspects of nanotechnology, and discuss the wide range of research and clinical applications of nanomedicine in the field of urology. There is particular emphasis on key clinical and pre-clinical studies to provide an update on recent and potential applications in the care of urological patients. METHODS A directed Medline literature review of nanotechnology was performed. Important publications that have shaped our understanding of nanotechnology were selected for review and were augmented by manual searches of reference lists. RESULTS Nanotechnology is the study, design, creation, synthesis, manipulation, and application of functional materials, devices, and systems through control of matter at the nanometer scale. Studies demonstrate a number of important concepts. These include nanovectors, nanotubes, and nanosensors for targeted drug delivery; nanowires and nanocantilever arrays for early detection of precancerous and malignant lesions; and nanopores for DNA sequencing. These advances will lead to significant applications relevant to the diagnosis, management, and treatment of all urological conditions. CONCLUSIONS This review is designed for the urologist to provide an overview and update on nanotechnology and its applications in the field of urology. In the future, it is widely expected that nanotechnology and nanomedicine will have a significant impact on urological research and clinical practice, allowing urologists to intervene at the cellular and molecular level. With structured, safe implementation, nanotechnologies have the potential to revolutionise urological practice in our lifetime.