Energy saving and improvement of product quality are of crucial importance in hot rolling of 304 stainless steel. In this paper, oil-in-water (O/W) based nanolubricants containing TiO2 nanoparticles were developed to reduce the rolling force and improve the surface quality of rolled 304 stainless steel product. Practical hot rolling tests with and without application of lubricant were conducted to systematically investigate the effects of the developed O/W based nanolubricants on the rolling force, surface roughness, oxide scale thickness and tribological behaviour. The obtained results indicate that the nanoparticles can enter the deform zone with oil droplets to take a lubrication effect. The optimal lubrication effect can be achieved when the O/W (1% oil mass fraction) based nanolubricant with a TiO2 mass fraction of 1.5% was applied. The novel nanolubricant has a great potential to be applied in the hot steel rolling, to realise the cost-effective and environmental-friendly manufacturing process.