The nucleocytoplasmic partitioning of nanoparticles as a result of cell division is highly relevant to the field of nonviral gene delivery. We reviewed the literature on the intracellular distribution of cell organelles (the endosomal vesicles, Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum and nucleus), foreign macromolecules (dextrans and plasmid DNA) and inorganic nanoparticles (gold, quantum dot and iron oxide) during mitosis. For nonviral gene delivery particles (lipid- or polymer-based), indirect proof of nuclear entry during mitosis is provided. We also describe how retroviruses and latent DNA viruses take advantage of mitosis to transfer their viral genome and segregate their episomes into the host daughter nuclei. Based on this knowledge, we propose strategies to improve nonviral gene delivery in dividing cells with the ultimate goal of designing nonviral gene delivery systems that are as efficient as their viral counterparts but non-immunogenic, non-oncogenic and easy and inexpensive to prepare.