In light-activated liposomal drug delivery systems (DDSs), the light sensitivity can be obtained by a photothermal agent that converts light energy into heat. Excess heat increases the drug permeability of the lipid bilayer, and drug is released as a result. In this work, two near-IR responsive photothermal agents in a model drug delivery system are studied: either gold nanorods (GNRs) encapsulated inside the liposomes or indocyanine green (ICG) embedded into the lipid bilayer. The liposome system is exposed to light, and the heating effect is studied with fluorescent thermometers: laurdan and CdSe quantum dots (QDs). Both photothermal agents are shown to convert light into heat in an extent to cause a phase transition in the surrounding lipid bilayer. This phase transition is also proven with laurdan generalized polarization (GP). In addition to the heating results, we show that the model drug (calcein) is released from the liposomal cavity with both photothermal agents when the light power is sufficient to cause a phase transition in the lipid bilayer.