With the ultimate goal of delivering therapeutic compounds selectively to cancerous or diseased tissues and cells, we have presented liposome-based plasmon resonant nanocapsules. The liposome's lipid membrane allows for encapsulation of a small volume of soluble therapeutic or diagnostic compounds, while the surrounding plasmon resonant gold structure elicits rapid release of the liposomes' contents when illuminated by laser light at wavelengths corresponding to the spectral position of the plasmon resonance band. By depositing discrete gold nanoclusters onto the surface of 100 nm diameter thermosensitive liposomes, we harness the plasmon resonance of a gold pseudo-shell while maintaining degradability to a size compatible with renal clearance. In this work we describe optimization of the liposome design which combines stable encapsulation at physiological temperatures and gold coating responsive at near infrared wavelengths. The described biocompatible composite delivery vehicle enables encapsulation and selective release of therapeutic or contrast agents upon application of a light stimulus for applications in biomedical imaging, diagnostics, therapeutics and targeted drug delivery.