Mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene are the most common molecular genetic abnormalities to be described in lung cancer. However, there have been few reports of nonviral vector-mediated p53 gene delivery in lung cancer. A new formulation of cationic solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs) for gene delivery was produced by the melt homogenization method with slight modification, and the SLNs were formulated by mixing tricaprin (TC) as a core, 3beta[N-(N', N'-dimethylaminoethane) carbamoyl] cholesterol (DC-Chol), dioleoylphosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE) and Tween 80 in various ratios. Plasmid DNA (pp53-EGFP)/SLNs complexes were transfected into human non-small cell lung cancer cells (H1299 cells) and transfection efficiency was determined by FACS analysis. The gene expression was determined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot analysis. The cellular growth inhibition and apoptosis of treated cells with pp53-EGFP/SLNs complexes were assessed by trypan blue exclusion assay and annexin V staining, respectively. In vivo biodistribution of plasmid DNA was investigated by PCR and RT-PCR. The transfection efficiency of SLN1 (TC:DC-Chol:DOPE:Tween 80=0.3:0.3:0.3:1), which showed the highest transfection efficiency among the SLN formulations, was higher than that of commercially available Lipofectin. The SLNs-mediated transfection of the p53 gene resulted in efficient high levels of wild-type p53 mRNA and protein expression levels in H1299 cells. The efficient reestablishment of wild-type p53 function in lung cancer cells restored the apoptotic pathway. Taken together, our results reveal that cationic SLN-mediated p53 gene delivery may have potential for clinical application as a nonviral vector-mediated lung cancer therapy due to its effective induction of apoptosis and tumor growth inhibition.