AbstractThe surface properties of intravenously injected nanoparticles determine the acquired blood protein adsorption pattern and subsequently the organ distribution and cellular recognition. A series of poly[acrylonitrile-co-(N-vinyl pyrrolidone)] (PANcoNVP) model nanoparticles (133–181 nm) was synthesized, in which the surface properties were altered by changing the molar content of NVP (0–33.8 mol%) as the more hydrophilic repeating unit. The extent of achieved surface property variation was comprehensively characterized. The residual sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) content from the synthesis was in the range 0.3–1.6 μg ml−1, potentially contributing to the surface properties. Surface hydrophobicity was determined by Rose Bengal dye adsorption, hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC) and aqueous two-phase partitioning (TPP). Particle charge was quantified by zeta potential (ZP) measurements including ZP–pH profiles. The interaction with proteins was analyzed by ZP measurements in serum and by adsorption studies with single proteins. Compared to hydrophobic polystyrene model nanoparticles, all PANcoNVP particles were very hydrophilic. Differences in surface hydrophobicity could be detected, which did not linearly correlate with the systematically altered bulk composition of the PANcoNVP nanoparticles. This proves the high importance of a thorough surface characterization applying a full spectrum of methods, complementing predictions solely based on bulk polymer composition.