Using nanoparticles to deliver drugs to cells has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of many diseases, including HIV, cancer, and diabetes. One of the major challenges facing this field is controlling where the drug is trafficked once the nanoparticle is taken up into the cell. In particular, if drugs remain localized in an endosomal or lysosomal compartment, the therapeutic can be rendered completely ineffective. To ensure the design of more effective delivery systems we must first develop a better understanding of how nanoparticles and their cargo are trafficked inside cells. This needs to be combined with an understanding of what characteristics are required for nanoparticles to achieve endosomal escape, along with methods to detect endosomal escape effectively. This review is focused into three sections: first, an introduction to the mechanisms governing internalization and trafficking in cells, second, a discussion of methods to detect endosomal escape, and finally, recent advances in controlling endosomal escape from polymer- and lipid-based nanoparticles, with a focus on engineering materials to promote endosomal escape.