Gold nanoparticles coated with homogeneous (MUS) or "striped" (MUS-OT) ligand shells can be conjugated with double or single stranded DNA, and particles with either ligand configuration effectively carry DNA into melanoma tumor cells. When endocytosis is inhibited, however, MUS-OT particles continue to mediate DNA delivery, while the delivery ability of MUS particles is abolished. © 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.