Worldwide researchers have rising concerns about magnesium-based materials, especially magnesium oxide (MgO) nanaoparticles, due to increasing usage as promising structural materials in various fields including cancer treatment. However, there is a serious lack of information about their toxicity at the cellular and molecular levels. In this study, the toxic potentials of MgO nanoparticles were investigated on liver (HepG2), kidney (NRK-52E), intestine (Caco-2), and lung (A549) cell lines. For the toxicological assessment, the following assays were used: the particle characterization by transmission electron microscopy, the determination of cellular uptake by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, MTT and neutral red uptake assays for cytotoxicity, comet assay for genotoxicity, and the determination of malondialdehyde (MDA), 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine, protein carbonyl, and glutathione levels by enzyme-linked immune sorbent assays for the potential of oxidative damage and annexin V-fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) apoptosis detection assay with propidium iodide (PI) for apoptosis. Magnesium oxide nanoparticles were taken up by the cells depending on their concentration and agglomeration/aggregation potentials. Magnesium oxide nanoparticles induced DNA (14.27 fold) and oxidative damage. At a concentration of 323.39 mu g/mL, MgO nanoparticles caused 50% inhibition in cell viability by 2 different cytotoxicity assays. The cell sensitivity to cytotoxic and genotoxic damage induced by MgO nanoparticles was ranked as HepG2 < A549 < Caco-2 < NRK-52E. Although it was observed that MgO nanoparticles induced apoptotic effects on the cells, apoptosis was not the main cell death. DNA damage, cell death, and oxidative damage effects of MgO nanoparticles should raise concern about the safety associated with their applications in consumer products.