Exploiting NF-kappa B transcription factor peptide conjugation, a Ru(II)-bis-tap complex (tap = 1,4,5,8-tetraazaphenanthrene) was targeted specifically to the nuclei of live HeLa and CHO cells for the first time. DNA binding of the complex within the nucleus of live cells was evident from gradual extinction of the metal complex luminescence after it had crossed the nuclear envelope, attributed to guanine quenching of the ruthenium emission via photoinduced electron transfer. Resonance Raman imaging confirmed that the complex remained in the nucleus after emission is extinguished. In the dark and under imaging conditions the cells remain viable, but efficient cellular destruction was induced with precise spatiotemporal control by applying higher irradiation intensities to selected cells. Solution studies indicate that the peptide conjugated complex associates strongly with calf thymus DNA ex-cellulo and gel electrophoresis confirmed that the peptide conjugate is capable of singlet oxygen independent photodamage to plasmid DNA. This indicates that the observed efficient cellular destruction likely operates via direct DNA oxidation by photoinduced electron transfer between guanine and the precision targeted Ru(II)-tap probe. The discrete targeting of polyazaaromatic complexes to the cell nucleus and confirmation that they are photocytotoxic after nuclear delivery is an important step toward their application in cellular phototherapy.