Recent emphasis has focused on the development of rationally designed polymer-based micelle carriers for drug delivery. The current work tests the hypothesis that target specificity can be enhanced by micelles with cancer-specific ligands. In particular, we describe the synthesis and characterization of a new gadolinium texaphyrin (Gd-Tx) complex encapsulated in an IVECT micellar system, stabilized through Fe(III) cross-linking and targeted with multiple copies of a specific ligand for the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), which has been evaluated as a cell-surface marker for melanoma. On the basis of comparative MRI experiments, we have been able to demonstrate that these Gd-Tx micelles are able to target MC1R-expressing xenograft tumors in vitro and in vivo more effectively than various control systems, including untargeted or un-cross-linked Gd-Tx micelles. Taken in concert, the findings reported herein support the conclusion that appropriately designed micelles are able to deliver contrast agent payloads to tumors expressing the MC1R.