Providing magnetite nanoparticles with saccharide coatings has been found to significantly increase the interactions of the nanoparticles with cells. Glucose (Glc) or N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) coated magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) were used to magnetically label 3T3 fibroblast cells, and the response of the labelled cells to external magnetic fields was studied. It was found that cells incubated with Glc- or GlcNAc-coated nanoparticles were much more likely to move towards an external magnet than those incubated with uncoated nanoparticles. Furthermore, cells in suspension moved much faster than those in contact with the surface of polystyrene well plates, with stronger magnets increasing the speed of movement. Cells that were adhering to the floor of the cell culture well and did not move in the x-y plane could still be rotated about the z-axis by moving the external magnet around the cell.