Irinotecan (CPT-11) is an effective chemotherapeutic agent widely used to treat different cancers. Otherwise, the liposomal delivery of anti-tumor agents has been shown to be a promising strategy. The aim of this study has been to analyze the effect of liposomal CPT-11 (CPT-11lip) on two human cell lines (Hs68 and HeLa) to establish the suitability of this CPT-11 nanocarrier. We have demonstrated the highest uptake of CPT-11lip in comparison with that of CPT-11sol, in lactate buffer, and that CPT-11lip was internalized in the cells through an endocytic process whereas CPT-11sol does so by passive diffusion. CPT-11lip was not cytotoxic to normal fibroblast Hs68 cells, but induced a massive apoptosis accompanied by cell senescence in HeLa cells. CPT-11lip treatment modified the morphology of HeLa cells, induced different cell cycle alterations and accumulated into lysosomes in both cell lines. In particular, CPT-11lip treatment showed that surviving HeLa cells remained in a state of senescence whereas only a temporal growth arrest was induced in Hs68 cells. Results of RT-PCR indicated that the different responses in Hs68 (survival) and HeLa cells (apoptotic death), seemed to be induced by a p53- and p53- independent mechanism, respectively. An analysis of DNA damage also determined that released CPT-11 from liposomes was able to reach the nucleus and exert a genotoxic effect in both cell lines, which was repaired in Hs68 but not in HeLa cells. All results indicate that phospholipid-cholesterol liposomes possess optimum properties for CPT-11 delivery, being biocompatible and selectively cytotoxic against HeLa tumorigenic cells.