Environmental nanoparticles and manufactured nanoparticles (MNMs) can share many of the same physicochemical properties and, therefore, could have similar toxicological profiles. Inhalation of nanoparticles in air pollution has effects throughout the body; however, the potential for inhaled MNMs to affect multiple organs requires further investigation. The biological mechanisms that link nanoparticles deposition in the lung to their systemic actions remain to be established; however, the passage of nanoparticles into the blood (“translocation”) represents a compelling explanation. This article highlights experimental work in animals and man showing that inhaled gold nanoparticles pass into the blood and accumulate at sites of vascular disease. The article discusses the properties of nanoparticles that could influence translocation and highlights some avenues for future research. The processes described have clear relevance, both for MNMs and sources of nanoparticles in air pollution. The authors emphasise the need for risk assessment of potential nanoparticle exposure routes that consider the multiple organ systems.