Abstract Carbon nanomaterials have multiple applications in various areas. However, it has been suggested that exposure to nanoparticles may be a risk for the development of vascular diseases due to injury and dysfunction of the vascular endothelium. Therefore, in the present study, the cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were evaluated. Optical and transmission electronic microscopy (TEM) study showed that MWCNTs were able to enter cells rapidly, distribute in the cytoplasm and intracellular vesicles and induce morphological changes. Exposure to MWCNTs reduced the viability of HUVECs, and induced apoptosis in HUVECs. Furthermore, MWCNTs could cause DNA damage as indicated by the formation of γH2AX foci. MWCNTs also affected cellular redox status, e.g., increasing intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, as well as altering superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) levels. On the other hand, the free radical scavenger N-acetyl- l-cysteine (NAC) preincubation can inhibit the cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of MWCNTs. Taken together, these results demonstrated that MWCNTs could induce cytotoxic and genotoxic effects in HUVECs, probably through oxidative damage pathways.