The aim of this paper is to develop highly magnetized, biodegradable and biocompatible, polymeric nanoparticles for drug delivery in cell therapy. Alginate magnetic nanoparticles are realized by an emulsion/reticulation technique, after the dispersion of magnetite in an alginate solution. Such nanoparticles are characterized in terms of external morphology (FIB imaging), microstructure (TEM imaging), size distribution, zeta potential, magnetic properties (SQUID analysis) and drug release behaviour. Magnetization curves show the typical trend of superparamagnetic materials. Important parameters, such as magnetic permeability and magnetic momentum, are derived by employing Langevin theory. Experimental results reveal that a bi-exponential model fully describes the drug release. Finally, in vitro experiments on NIH/3T3 cells are carried out and demonstrate that our magnetic alginate nanoparticles can effectively drive the drug delivery towards an external magnetic field source.