This report discusses our work on synthesis of hematite and maghemite nanotubes, analysis of their biocompatibility with pheochromocytoma cells (PC12 cells), and study of their applications in the culture of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and the delivery of ibuprofen sodium salt (ISS) drug model. Two methods, template-assisted thermal decomposition method and hydrothermal method, were used for synthesizing hematite nanotubes, and maghemite nanotubes were obtained from the synthesized hematite nanotubes by thermal treatment. The crystalline, morphology and magnetic properties of the hematite and maghemite nanotubes were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscope (SEM) and vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM), respectively. The biocompatibility of the synthesized hematite nanotubes was confirmed by the survival and differentiation of PC12 cells in the presence of the hematite nanotubes coupled to nerve growth factor (NGF). To study the combined effects of the presence of magnetic nanotubes and external magnetic fields on neurite growth, laminin was coupled to hematite and maghemite nanotubes, and DRG neurons were cultured in the presence of the treated nanotubes with the application of external magnetic fields. It was found that neurons can better tolerate external magnetic fields when magnetic nanotubes were present. Close contacts between nanotubes and filopodia that were observed under SEM showed that the nanotubes and the growing neurites interacted readily. The drug loading and release capabilities of hematite nanotubes synthesized by hydrothermal method were tested by using ibuprofen sodium salt (ISS) as a drug model. Our experimental results indicate that hematite and maghemite nanotubes have good biocompatibility with neurons, could be used in regulating neurite growth, and are promising vehicles for drug delivery.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.