Nanoparticles and their interaction with human cells have been a focus of many groups during the past decade. We discuss and review here the progress in the field of understanding and harnessing the interactions of polymeric nanoparticles synthesized by the miniemulsion process with different cell types. Nanotechnology and the hereby produced nanomaterials have promised to make use of specific properties of supramolecular assemblies and nanomaterials so that hitherto inaccessible effects can be exploited for new applications. Examples are superparamagnetism or the high surface area helpful for catalysis and adsorption. In biology and medicine, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles have been used for cell selection and as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents. Furthermore, uptake of nanoparticles into a wide variety of cells is an effect that seems to be specific for materials in the range of 50-200 nm. Surface modifications (positively or negatively charged side groups of the polymers, amino acids, or peptides/proteins) enhance this uptake. Knowledge about factors influencing cellular uptake, like size, surface properties, cell type, and endocytotic pathways, enables optimization of labeling and selection of cells and nanoparticles for applications in vitro and in vivo. For in vivo applications, we will focus on how nanoparticles can cross the blood-brain barrier.