A nanoparticle-conjugated cancer drug provides a novel strategy for cancer therapy. In this study, we manipulated nanodiamond (ND), a carbon nanomaterial, to covalently link paclitaxel for cancer drug delivery and therapy. Paclitaxel was bound to the surface of 3-5 nm sized ND through a succession of chemical modifications. The ND-paclitaxel conjugation was measured by atomic force microscope and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and confirmed with infrared spectroscopy by the detection of deuterated paclitaxel. Treatment with 0.1-50 μg;g ml -1 ND-paclitaxel for 48 h significantly reduced the cell viability in the A549 human lung carcinoma cells. ND-paclitaxel induced both mitotic arrest and apoptosis in A549 cells. However, ND alone or denatured ND-paclitaxel (after treatment with strong alkaline solution, 1 M NaOH) did not induce the damage effects on A549 cells. ND-paclitaxel was taken into lung cancer cells in a concentration-dependent manner using flow cytometer analysis. The ND-paclitaxel particles were located in the microtubules and cytoplasm of A549 cells observed by confocal microscopy. Furthermore, ND-paclitaxel markedly blocked the tumor growth and formation of lung cancer cells in xenograft SCID mice. Together, we provide a functional covalent conjugation of ND-paclitaxel, which can be delivered into lung carcinoma cells and preserves the anticancer activities on the induction of mitotic blockage, apoptosis and anti-tumorigenesis.