The effects of quantum dots (QD) on cell viability have gained increasing interest due to many recent developments utilizing QD for pharmaceutical and biomedical applications. The potential use of QD nanoparticles as diagnostic, imaging, and drug delivery agents has raised questions about their potential for cytotoxicity. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of applied strain on QD uptake by human epidermal keratinocytes (HEK). It was hypothesized that introduction of a 10% average strain to cell cultures would increase QD uptake. HEK were seeded at a density of 150,000 cells/mL on collagen-coated Flexcell culture plates (Flexcell Intl.). QD were introduced at a concentration of 3 nM and a 10% average strain was applied to the cells. After 4 h of cyclic strain, the cells were examined for cell viability, QD uptake, and cytokine production. The results indicate that addition of strain results in an increase in cytokine production and QD uptake, resulting in irritation and a negative impact on cell viability. Application of physiological load conditions can increase cell membrane permeability, thereby increasing the concentration of QD nanoparticles in cells. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.