Magnetosomes are specialized organelles arranged in intracellular chains in magnetotactic bacteria. The superparamagnetic property of these magnetite crystals provides potential applications as contrast-enhancing agents for magnetic resonance imaging. In this study, we compared two different nanoparticles that are bacterial magnetosome and HSA-coated iron oxide nanoparticles for targeting breast cancer. Both magnetosomes and HSA-coated iron oxide nanoparticles were chemically conjugated to fluorescent-labeled anti-EGFR antibodies. Antibody-conjugated nanoparticles were able to bind the MDA-MB-231 cell line, as assessed by flow cytometry. To compare the cytotoxic effect of nanoparticles, MTT assay was used, and according to the results, HSA-coated iron oxide nanoparticles were less cytotoxic to breast cancer cells than magnetosomes. Magnetosomes were bound with higher rate to breast cancer cells than HSA-coated iron oxide nanoparticles. While 250 mu g/ml of magnetosomes was bound 92 +/- 0.2%, 250 mu g/ml of HSA-coated iron oxide nanoparticles was bound with a rate of 65 +/- 5%. In vivo efficiencies of these nanoparticles on breast cancer generated in nude mice were assessed by MRI imaging. Anti-EGFR-modified nanoparticles provide higher resolution images than unmodified nanoparticles. Also, magnetosome with anti-EGFR produced darker image of the tumor tissue in T2-weighted MRI than HSA-coated iron oxide nanoparticles with anti-EGFR. In vivo MR imaging in a mouse breast cancer model shows effective intratumoral distribution of both nanoparticles in the tumor tissue. However, magnetosome demonstrated higher distribution than HSA-coated iron oxide nanoparticles according to fluorescence microscopy evaluation. According to the results of in vitro and in vivo study results, magnetosomes are promising for targeting and therapy applications of the breast cancer cells.