There has been a great interest in application of nanoparticles as biomaterials for delivery of therapeutic molecules such as drugs and genes, and for tissue engineering. In particular, biopolymers are suitable materials as nanoparticles for clinical application due to their versatile traits, including biocompatibility, biodegradability and low immunogenicity. Biopolymers are polymers that are produced from living organisms, which are classified in three groups: polysaccharides, proteins and nucleic acids. It is important to control particle size, charge, morphology of surface and release rate of loaded molecules to use biopolymer-based nanoparticles as drug/gene delivery carriers. To obtain a nano-carrier for therapeutic purposes, a variety of materials and preparation process has been attempted. This review focuses on fabrication of biocompatible nanoparticles consisting of biopolymers such as protein (silk, collagen, gelatin, β-casein, zein and albumin), protein-mimicked polypeptides and polysaccharides (chitosan, alginate, pullulan, starch and heparin). The effects of the nature of the materials and the fabrication process on the characteristics of the nanoparticles are described. In addition, their application as delivery carriers of therapeutic drugs and genes and biomaterials for tissue engineering are also reviewed.