Treating diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) is complicated by the presence of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a semipermeable boundary layer protecting the CNS from toxins and homeostatic disruptions. However, this layer also excludes almost 100% of therapeutics, impeding the treatment of CNS diseases. The advent of nanoparticles, in particular metallic-based nanoparticles, presents the potential to overcome this barrier and transport drugs into the CNS. Recent interest in metallic-based nanoparticles has generated an immense array of information pertaining to nanoparticles of different materials, varying sizes, morphologies, and surface properties. Nanoparticles with different physico-chemical properties lead to distinct nanoparticle-host interactions; yet, comprehensive characterization is often not completed. Similarly, in vivo testing has involved a mixed evaluation of parameters, including: BBB permeability, integrity, biodistribution, and toxicity. The methods applied to assess these parameters are inconsistent; this complicates the comparison of different nanoparticle-host system responses. A systematic review was conducted to investigate the methods by which metallic-based nanoparticles are characterized and assessed in vivo. The introduction of a standardized approach to nanoparticle characterization and in vivo testing is crucial if research is to transition to a clinical setting. The approach suggested, herein, is based on equipment and techniques that are accessible and informative to facilitate the routine incorporation of this standardized, informative approach into different research settings. Thorough characterization could lead to improved interpretation of in vivo responses which could clarify nanoparticle properties that result in favorable in vivo outcomes whilst exposing nanoparticle-specific weaknesses. Only then will researchers successfully identify nanoparticles capable of delivering life-saving therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier.