Despite the ever-growing body of literature reporting the effects of flavonoids on animals at both the cellular and systemic levels, one of the most basic questions-"Are the effects of flavonoids on animal cells initiated through their interaction with extracellular targets or intracellular targets?"-has yet to be addressed. Because many effects of flavonoids on cells can be detected within minutes of flavonoid application and because flavonoids diffuse across lipid membranes slowly or not at all, intracellular mechanisms would necessitate a flavonoid transport system for rapid flavonoid uptake. The specific aims of this investigation were (1) to determine if endothelial cells contain a mechanism that mediates rapid flavonoid uptake and (2) to provide evidence for or against the hypothesis that rapid flavonoid effects on endothelial cell synthesis of prostacyclin and endothelin are initiated through the interaction of flavonoids with intracellular targets. Data show that bovine and human aortic endothelial cells possess a transport system that mediates rapid uptake of the flavonoid morin and suggest that the flavonoid uptake system utilizes a variety of oxygenated phenolic compounds as substrates. Further investigation into flavonoid transport should expedite future investigation into the mechanisms of flavonoid actions, because it may allow research to focus on the cellular locations where flavonoids are concentrated. Although endothelial cells contain a mechanism for the rapid uptake of morin, data reported herein suggest that morin initiates its rapid effects on endothelial cell synthesis of prostacyclin and endothelin through an interaction with extracellular targets.