Nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs) were prepared to investigate whether the duration of brain targeting and accumulation of drugs in the brain can be improved by intravenous delivery. NLCs were developed using cetyl palmitate as the lipid matrix, squalene as the cationic surfactant, and Pluronic F68, polysorbate 80 and polyethylene glycol as the interfacial additives. Solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs) and lipid emulsions (LEs) were also prepared for comparison. An anti-Parkinson's drug, apomorphine, was used as the model drug. Nuclear magnetic resonance and differential scanning calorimetry showed possible interactions between the solid and liquid lipids in the inner core. The lipid nanoparticles with different compositions were characterized by mean size, zeta potential, apomorphine encapsulation and in vitro drug release. NLCs were 370-430 nm in size, which was between the sizes of the SLNs and LEs. A cationic surfactant was used to produce a positive surface charge of 42-50 mV. The base form of apomorphine was successfully entrapped by NLCs with an entrapment percentage of > 60%. The loading of apomorphine in nanoparticles resulted in a slower release behavior compared to the aqueous solution, with LEs showing the lowest release. In vivo real-time bioluminescence imaging of the rat brain revealed that NLCs could be targeted, through certain vessels, to selected brain regions. This effect was further confirmed by imaging the entire brain and brain slices. The results indicated that NLCs with moderate additives are a promising controlled-release and drug-targeting system.