Lipid based colloids (e.g. emulsions and liposomes) are widely used as drug delivery systems, but often suffer from physical instabilities and non-ideal drug encapsulation and delivery performance. We review the application of engineered nanoparticle layers at the interface of lipid colloids to improve their performance as drug delivery systems. In addition we focus on the creation of novel hybrid nanomaterials from nanoparticle-lipid colloid assemblies and their drug delivery applications. Specifically, nanoparticle layers can be engineered to enhance the physical stability of submicron lipid emulsions and liposomes, satbilise encapsulated active ingredients against chemical degradation, control molecular transport and improve the dermal and oral delivery characteristics, i.e. increase absorption, bioavailability and facilitate targeted delivery. It is feasible that hybrid nanomaterials composed of nanoparticles and colloidal lipids are effective encapsulation and delivery systems for both poorly soluble drugs and biological drugs and may form the basis for the next generation of medicines. Additional pre-clinical research including specific animal model studies are required to advance the peptide/protein delivery systems, whereas the silica lipid hybrid systems have now entered human clinical trials for poorly soluble drugs.