The amalgamation of chemotherapy and gene therapy is promising treatment option for cancer. In this study, novel biocompatible self-assembled nanocomplexes (NCs) between carboxylmethylated pullulan t335 (CMP) with polyallylamine (CMP–PAA NCs) were developed for plasmid DNA (pDNA) and pH-sensitive doxorubicin (DOX) delivery. DOX was conjugated to CMP (DOX–CMP) via hydrazone and confirmed by FTIR and 1H-NMR. In vitro release studies of pH-sensitive DOX–CMP conjugate showed 23 and 85 % release after 48 h at pH 7.4 (physiological pH) and pH 5 (intracellular/tumoral pH), respectively. The CMP–PAA NCs or DOX–CMP–PAA NCs self-assembled into a nanosized (<250 nm) spherical shape as confirmed by DLS and TEM. The hemolysis and cytotoxicity study indicated that the CMP–PAA NCs did not show cytotoxicity in comparison with plain polyallylamine. Gel retardation assay showed complete binding of pDNA with CMP–PAA NCs at 1:2 weight ratio. CMP–PAA NCs/pDNA showed significantly higher transfection in HEK293 cells compared to PAA/pDNA complexes. Confocal imaging demonstrated successful cellular uptake of DOX–CMP–PAA NCs in HEK293 cells. Thus, NCs hold great potential for targeted pDNA and pH-sensitive intratumoral drug delivery. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.