Surface charge plays a fundamental role in determining the fate of a nanoparticle, and any encapsulated contents, in vivo. Herein, we describe, and visualise in real time, light-triggered switching of liposome surface charge, from neutral to cationic, in situ and in vivo (embryonic zebrafish). Prior to light activation, intravenously administered liposomes, composed of just two lipid reagents, freely circulate and successfully evade innate immune cells present in the fish. Upon in situ irradiation and surface charge switching, however, liposomes rapidly adsorb to, and are taken up by, endothelial cells and/or are phagocytosed by blood resident macrophages. Coupling complete external control of nanoparticle targeting together with the intracellular delivery of encapsulated (and membrane impermeable) cargos, these compositionally simple liposomes are proof that advanced nanoparticle function in vivo does not require increased design complexity but rather a thorough understanding of the fundamental nano-bio interactions involved.