Although the potential benefits of gene therapy for the treatment of acquired and inherited genetic diseases have been demonstrated through preclinical studies, the results of human gene therapy trials have been disappointing. Recombinant viruses are the primary vectors of choice because of their ability to protect genetic materials, cross cellular membranes, escape from endosomes and transport their genetic materials into the nucleus. Unfortunately, viral vectors have been unable to gain widespread clinical application because of their toxicity and immunogenicity. Consequently, the need for safer alternatives has led to the development of liposomes, cationic polyplexes, microparticles and nanoparticles. Although these alternative vectors have shown promise, degradable nanoparticles are the only non-viral vectors that can provide a targeted intracellular delivery with controlled release properties. Furthermore, the potential advantage of degradable nanoparticles over their non-degradable counterparts is the reduced toxicity and the avoidance of accumulation within the target tissue after repeated administration. In this article, current non-viral gene delivery devices are reviewed with a special emphasis on nanoparticle gene delivery systems. Also, the authors highlight their philosophy and efforts on the development of l-tyrosine-based polyphosphate nanoparticle-based non-viral gene delivery systems and assess the potential benefits and shortcomings of their approach.