Drug-loaded polymeric nanocapsules have exhibited potential applications in the field of drug delivery systems in recent years. This article entails the biodegradable polymers generally used for preparing nanocapsules, which include both natural polymers and synthetic polymers. Furthermore, the article presents a general review of the different preparation methods: nanoprecipitation method, emulsion-diffusion method, double emulsification method, emulsion-coacervation method, layer-by-layer assembly method. In addition, the analysis methods of nanocapsule characteristics, such as mean size, morphology, surface characteristics, shell thickness, encapsulation efficiency, active substance release, dispersion stability, are mentioned. Also, the applications of nanocapsules as carriers for use in drug delivery systems are reviewed, which primarily involve targeting drug delivery, controlled/sustained release drug delivery systems, transdermal drug delivery systems and improving stability and bioavailability of drugs. Nanocapsules, prepared with different biodegradable polymers, have received more and more attention and have been regarded as one of the most promising drug delivery systems.