Disruption of animal cells in turbulent capillary flows has been predicted from a model of cell–hydrodynamic interactions using cell mechanical properties determined by micromanipulation. Eddies of sizes similar to or smaller than the cells are presumed to interact with those cells, causing local surface deformations. The proposed mechanism of cell damage is that such deformations result in an increase in membrane tension and surface energy and that a cell disrupts when its bursting membrane tension and bursting surface energy are exceeded. The surface energy of the cells is estimated from the kinetic energy of appropriately sized eddies. To test the model, cells were disrupted in turbulent flows in capillaries at mean energy dissipation rates up to 2 × 104 m2/s3. In all cases the model underestimated the cell disruption by about 15%. Such good agreement implies that the approach of the model to the complicated phenomena of cell turbulence interactions is reasonable. © 1993 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.