To obtain more biologically relevant data there is a growing interest in the use of living cells for assaying the biological activity of unknown chemical compounds. Density ‘multiplex’ cell-based assays, where different cell types are mixed in one well and simultaneously investigated upon exposure to a certain compound are beginning to emerge. To be able to identify the cells they should be attached to microscopic carriers that are encoded. This paper investigates how digitally encoded microparticles can be loaded with cells while keeping the digital code in the microcarriers readable. It turns out that coating the surface of the encoded microcarriers with polyelectrolytes using the layer-by-layer (LbL) approach provides the microcarriers with a ‘highly functional’ surface. The polyelectrolyte layer allows the growth of the cells, allows the orientation of the cell loaded microcarriers in a magnetic field, and does not hamper the reading of the code. It has further been shown that the cells growing on the polyelectrolyte layer can become transduced by adenoviral particles hosted by the polyelectrolyte layer. It is concluded that the digitally encoded microparticles are promising materials for use in biomedical and pharmaceutical in-vitro research where cells are used as tools.