A novel type of magnetic core-shell silica nanoparticles is developed for small interfering RNA (siRNA) delivery. These nanoparticles are fabricated by coating super-paramagnetic magnetite nanocrystal clusters with radial large-pore mesoporous silica. The amine functionalized nanoparticles have small particle sizes around 150 nm, large radial mesopores of 12 nm, large surface area of 411 m(2) g(-1) , high pore volume of 1.13 cm(3) g(-1) and magnetization of 25 emu g(-1) . Thus, these nanoparticles possess both high loading capacity of siRNA (2 wt%) and strong magnetic response under an external magnetic field. An acid-liable coating composed of tannic acid can further protect the siRNA loaded in these nanoparticles. The coating also increases the dispersion stability of the siRNA-loaded carrier and can serve as a pH-responsive releasing switch. Using the magnetic silica nanoparticles with tannic acid coating as carriers, functional siRNA has been successfully delivered into the cytoplasm of human osteosarcoma cancer cells in vitro. The delivery is significantly enhanced with the aid of the external magnetic field.