Specific labelling of target cell surfaces using antibody-conjugated paramagnetic nanobeads is essential for efficient magnetic cell separation. However, studies examining parameters determining the kinetics of bead-cell binding are scarce. The present study determines the binding rates for specific and unspecific binding of 150 nm paramagnetic nanobeads to highly purified target and non-target cells. Beads bound to cells were enumerated spectrophotometrically. Results show that the initial bead-cell binding rate and saturation levels depend on initial bead concentration and fit curves of the form A(1 - exp(-kt)). Unspecific binding within conventional experimental time-spans (up to 60 min) was not detectable photometrically. For CD3-positive cells, the probability of specific binding was found to be around 80 times larger than that of unspecific binding.