Topical drug application is less prone to severe systemic side-effects than systemic application. Starting with the liposomes, various types of nanosized and microsized drug carriers have been developed to increase the notoriously low penetration of active agents into the skin, which limits not only the topical therapy of skin disease but also transdermal therapy. Today, liposome- and microsponge-based preparations are approved for dermatomycosis, acne and actinic keratosis. Under investigation are drug carriers such as lipid nanoparticles, polymeric particles, dendrimers, and dendritic-core multi-shell nanotransporters. According to the rapidly increasing research in this field, both in academia and industry, a breakthrough appears likely, once stability problems (nanoparticles) and safety concerns (dendrimers) are overcome. Technical approaches and results of in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo testing are described, taking into account pharmacokinetic, efficacy and safety aspects.