Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (Fe-NPs) are considered for various biomedical and neurobiological applications that involve the presence of external magnetic fields. However, little is known on the effects of a magnetic field on the uptake of such particles by brain cells. Cultured brain astrocytes accumulated dimercaptosuccinate-coated Fe-NP in a time-, temperature-, and concentration-dependent manner. This accumulation was strongly enhanced by the presence of the magnetic field generated by a permanent neodymium iron boron magnet that had been positioned below the cells. The magnetic field-induced acceleration of the accumulation of Fe-NP increased almost proportional to the strength of the magnetic field applied, increasing the cellular-specific iron content from an initial 10 nmol/mg protein within 4 h of incubation at 37°C to up to 12,000 nmol/mg protein. However, presence of a magnetic field also increased the amounts of iron that attached to the cells during incubation with Fe-NP at 4°C. These results suggest that the presence of an external magnetic field promotes in cultured astrocytes both the binding of Fe-NP to the cell membrane and the internalization of Fe-NP. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A, 2012.