A novel proof of principle demonstration for contents release from liposomes that can be selectively activated by light irradiation is presented. The content release temperature was adjusted to slightly above body temperature, and hydrophobic or hydrophilic gold nanoparticles were incorporated into the lipid bilayer or the core of the liposomes, respectively. The release of a fluorescent marker was monitored upon exposure of the liposomes to UV light. Gold nanoparticle-containing liposomes remained intact at 37 C but contents release was triggered by UV light-induced heating of the gold nanoparticles. This light-induced release is mediated by heat transfer from the gold nanoparticles to the lipids and subsequent phase transition. Heating is highly localized in the liposomes and the gold nanoparticles act as energy collectors that sensitize the liposomes to the light signal. This kind of selectivity is very advantageous as it can potentially make the drug delivery mechanism biologically more compatible. The triggered contents release could also be extended to other applications where local contents release is needed. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.