We have synthesized nanowires with an iron core and an iron oxide (magnetite) shell by a facile low-cost fabrication process. The magnetic properties of the nanowires can be tuned by changing shell thicknesses to yield remarkable new properties and multi-functionality. A multi-domain state at remanence can be obtained, which is an attractive feature for biomedical applications, where a low remanence is desirable. The nanowires can also be encoded with different remanence values. Notably, the oxidation process of single-crystal iron nanowires halts at a shell thickness of 10 nm. The oxide shell of these nanowires acts as a passivation layer, retaining the magnetic properties of the iron core even during high-temperature operations. This property renders these core-shell nanowires attractive materials for application to harsh environments. A cell viability study reveals a high degree of biocompatibility of the core-shell nanowires.