A multifunctional gold (Au) nanorod (NR)-based nanocarrier capable of co-delivering small interfering RNA (siRNA) against achaete-scute complex-like 1 (ASCL1) and an anticancer drug (doxorubicin (DOX)) specifically to neuroendocrine (NE) cancer cells was developed and characterized for combined chemotherapy and siRNA-mediated gene silencing. The Au NR was conjugated with (1) DOX, an anticancer drug, via a pH-labile hydrazone linkage to enable pH-controlled drug release, (2) polyarginine, a cationic polymer for complexing siRNA, and (3) octreotide (OCT), a tumor-targeting ligand, to specifically target NE cancer cells with overexpressed somatostatin receptors. The Au NR-based nanocarriers exhibited a uniform size distribution as well as pH-sensitive drug release. The OCT-conjugated Au NR-based nanocarriers (Au-DOX-OCT, targeted) exhibited a much higher cellular uptake in a human carcinoid cell line (BON cells) than non-targeted Au NR-based nanocarriers (Au-DOX) as measured by both flow cytometry and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). Moreover, Au-DOX-OCT-ASCL1 siRNA (Au-DOX-OCT complexed with ASCL1 siRNA) resulted in significantly higher gene silencing in NE cancer cells than Au-DOX-ASCL1 siRNA (non-targeted Au-DOX complexed with ASCL1 siRNA) as measured by an immunoblot analysis. Additionally, Au-DOX-OCT-ASCL1 siRNA was the most efficient nanocarrier at altering the NE phenotype of NE cancer cells and showed the strongest anti-proliferative effect. Thus, combined chemotherapy and RNA silencing using NE tumor-targeting Au NR-based nanocarriers could potentially enhance the therapeutic outcomes in treating NE cancers. © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.