Curcumin, a lipid soluble antioxidant, exhibits solvent and medium sensitive absorption and fluorescence properties. Using such changes, the average binding constants of curcumin to phosphatidylcholine (PC) liposomes and human serum albumin (HSA) were estimated to be 2.5 x 10(4) M(-1) and 6.1 x 10(4) M(-1) respectively. From the studies on temperature dependent fluorescence anisotropy of liposomal curcumin and its fluorescence quenching by acrylamide and iodide, it was concluded that curcumin is located in the gel phase of the liposomes. Similarly from the studies on quenching of tryptophan fluorescence in HSA by curcumin, it was found to be in the same domain as that of tryptophan. Both liposomal and HSA vehicles were examined for the transfer of curcumin to spleen lymphocyte cells, EL4 lymphoma cell line and compared with aqueous DMSO vehicles. From these studies it was found that liposomal vehicle is capable of loading more curcumin in to cells than HSA or aqueous-DMSO, and lymphoma cells show preferential uptake of curcumin to lymphocytes. The fluorescence of curcumin in EL4 lymphoma cells was found to be significantly higher as compared to the lymphocytes. The present study demonstrates a simple and quantitative method of estimation of curcumin delivered to cells by different vehicles using absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy.