Superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoparticles are contrast agents used for magnetic resonance imaging. Ferucarbotran is a clinically approved SPIO-coated carboxydextran with a diameter of about 45-60 nm. We investigated the mechanism of cellular uptake of Ferucarbotran with a cell model using the murine macrophage cell line Raw 264.7. We observed a dose-dependent uptake of these SPIO particles by spectrophotometer analysis and also a dose-dependent increase in the granularity of the macrophages as determined by flow cytometry. There was a linear correlation between the side scattering mean value and iron content (P<0.001, R(2) = 0. 8048). For evaluation of the endocytotic pathway of these ingested SPIO particles, different inhibitors of the endocytotic pathways were employed. There was a significant decrease of side scattering counts in the cells and a less significant change in signal intensity based on magnetic resonance in the phenylarsine oxide-treated macrophages. After labeling with SPIO particles, the macrophages showed an increase in the production of reactive oxygen species at 2, 24, and 48 h; a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential at 24 h; and an increase in cell proliferation at 24 h. We concluded that Ferucarbotran was internalized into macrophages via the clathrin-mediated pathway and can change the cellular behavior of these cells after labeling.