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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a complex disease, characterized by persistent airflow limitation and chronic inflammation. The purpose of this study was to design lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles (LPNs) loaded with the corticosteroid, budesonide, which could potentially be combined with small interfering RNA (siRNA) for COPD management. Here, we prepared LPNs based on the biodegradable polymer poly(dl-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) and the cationic lipid dioleyltrimethylammonium propane (DOTAP) using a double emulsion solvent evaporation method. A quality-by-design (QbD) approach was adopted to define the optimal formulation parameters. The quality target product profile (QTPP) of the LPNs was identified based on risk assessment. Two critical formulation parameters (CFPs) were identified, including the theoretical budesonide loading and the theoretical DOTAP loading. The CFPs were linked to critical quality attributes (CQAs), which included the intensity-based hydrodynamic particle diameter (z-average), the polydispersity index (PDI), the zeta-potential, the budesonide encapsulation efficiency, the actual budesonide loading and the DOTAP encapsulation efficiency. A response surface methodology (RSM) was applied for the experimental design to evaluate the influence of the CFPs on the CQAs, and to identify the optimal operation space (OOS). All nanoparticle dispersions displayed monodisperse size distributions (PDI < 0.2) with z-averages of approximately 150 nm, suggesting that the size is not dependent on the investigated CFPs. In contrast, the zeta-potential was highly dependent on the theoretical DOTAP loading. Upon increased DOTAP loading, the zeta-potential reached a maximal point, after which it remained stable at the maximum value. This suggests that the LPN surface is covered by DOTAP, and that the DOTAP loading is saturable. The actual budesonide loading of the LPNs was mainly dependent on the initial amount of budesonide, and a clear positive effect was observed, which shows that the interaction between drug and PLGA increases when increasing the initial amount of budesonide. The OOS was modeled by applying the QTPP. The OOS had a budesonide encapsulation efficiency higher than 30%, a budesonide loading above 15 μg budesonide/mg PLGA, a zeta-potential higher than 35 mV and a DOTAP encapsulation efficiency above 50%. This study shows the importance of systematic formulation design for understanding the effect of formulation parameters on the characteristics of LPNs, eventually resulting in the identification of an OOS.