Calcium phosphate-based transfection methods are frequently used to transfer DNA into living cells. However, it has so far not been studied in detail to what extend the different transfection methods lead to a net calcium uptake. Upon subsequent resolution of the calcium phosphate, intracellular free ionic calcium-surges could result, inducing as side effect various physiological responses that may finally result in cell death. Here we investigated the overall calcium uptake by the human bladder carcinoma cell line T24 during the standard calcium phosphate transfection method and also during transfection with custom-made calcium phosphate/DNA nanoparticles by isotope labelling with (45)calcium. (45)Calcium uptake was strongly increased after 7h of standard calcium phosphate transfection but not if the transfection was performed with calcium phosphate nanoparticles. Time lapse imaging microscopy using the calcium-sensitive dye Fura-2 revealed large transient increases of the intracellular free calcium level during the standard calcium phosphate transfection but not if calcium phosphate nanoparticles were used. Consistently, the viability of cells transfected by calcium phosphate/DNA nanoparticles was not changed, in remarkable contrast to the standard method where considerable cell death occurred.