Background: Locoregional recurrence significantly impacts survival and quality of life in patients with ovarian carcinoma. We hypothesize that local administration of paclitaxel-loaded expansile nanoparticles (pax-eNP) at the time of cytoreductive surgery decreases local tumor recurrence.Methods: In vitro cytotoxicity of pax-eNP was assessed against both the OVCAR-3 human ovarian cancer cell line and tumor cells isolated from a malignant pleural effusion from a patient with multidrug-resistant ovarian cancer. A murine xenogenic model involving surgical cytoreduction of established OVCAR-3 intra-abdominal tumor was used to evaluate in vivo efficacy of intraoperative intraperitoneal (IP) injection of 10 mg/kg of paclitaxel either as pax-eNP or paclitaxel in Cremophor EL/ethanol solution (pax-C/E) versus empty eNP controls. Cytoreductive surgery and intraoperative treatment were performed 4 weeks after established tumor. All animals were sacrificed when empty eNP controls displayed extensive evidence of disease progression.Results: Labeled-eNP entered tumor cells in vitro within 4 h and specifically accumulated at sites of tumor in vivo. Pax-eNP exhibited dose-dependent cytotoxicity in both OVCAR-3 and patient tumor cells isolated from a malignant pleural effusion and effectively prevented tumor recurrence following debulking (p = 0.003 vs. empty eNP). Furthermore, pax-eNP-treated animals did not develop severe recurrent carcinomatosis compared with 43 % of the pax-C/E-treated cohort, suggesting that single-dose intracavitary pax-eNP is more effective than an equivalent dose of pax-C/E.Conclusions: Expansile nanoparticles readily enter human ovarian tumor cells and localize to sites of tumor in vivo with pax-eNP cytotoxicity resulting in superior inhibition of locoregional tumor recurrence following cytoreductive surgery.