In this study, surface modified mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) were prepared for the targeted delivery of the anticancer agents, daunorubicin (DNR) and cytarabine (CTR), against K562 leukemia cancer cell lines. The MSNs were surface-modified with pH-sensitive chitosan (CS) to prevent the burst release of anticancer agents at the physiological pH of 7.4 and to enable a higher drug release at lower pH and higher concentration of glutathione. Finally, the MSNs were surface modified with KKB aptamer (Apt) to enhance their uptake by K562 cells through ligand-receptor interactions. The MSNs were characterized using different methods and both in vitro and in vivo experiments were utilized to demonstrate their suitability as targeted anticancer agents. The resultant MSNs exhibited an average particle size of 295 nm, a surface area of 39.06 m2/g, and a cumulative pore volume of 0.09 cm3/g. Surface modification of MSNs with chitosan (CS) resulted in a more regulated and acceptable continuous release rate of DNR. The drug release rate was significantly higher at pH 5 media enriched with glutathione, compared to pH 7.4. Furthermore, MSNs coated with CS and conjugated with aptamer (MSN-DNR+CTR@CS-Apt) exhibited a lower IC50 value of 2.34 µg/ml, compared to MSNs without aptamer conjugation, which displayed an IC50 value of 12.27 µg/ml. The results of the cell cycle analysis indicated that the administration of MSN-DNR+CTR@CS-Apt led to a significant increase in the population of apoptotic cells in the sub-G1 phase. Additionally, the treatment arrested the remaining cells in various other phases of the cell cycle. Furthermore, the interactions between Apt-receptors were found to enhance the uptake of MSNs by cancer cells. The results of in vivo studies demonstrated that the administration of MSN-DNR+CTR@CS-Apt led to a significant reduction in the expression levels of CD71 and CD235a markers, as compared to MSN-DNR+CTR@CS (p<0.001). In conclusion, the surface modified MSNs prepared in this study showed lower IC50 against cancer cell lines and higher anticancer activity in animal models.Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier B.V.