Chemotherapy and photothermal therapy can be efficiently integrated to achieve enhanced antitumor efficacy by using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) which are super in delivering drug and converting near infrared radiation (NIR) into heat. We previously developed an innovative TAT-chitosan functionalized MWCNTs (MWCNTs/TC) based drug delivery system for doxorubicin (DOX) and preliminarily investigated its release profile and antitumor effect. In the present study, the application potential of MWCNTs/DOX/TC in chemo-photothermal combination therapy was further explored. The in vitro drug release, photothermal effect, cellular uptake and cytotoxicity were assessed. The in vivo anti-tumor effect of MWCNTs/DOX/TC was further evaluated by noninvasive bioluminescence imaging. It was demonstrated that this innovative drug delivery system not only realized a conspicuously sustained release of DOX, but also retained the optical properties of MWCNTs for a high photothermal effect upon NIR irradiation, and exhibited remarkably enhanced anti-tumor efficacy through the synergistic function of chemotherapy and photothermal ablation.