Abstract Nano materials are commonly functionalized to boost their physicochemical properties. However, there is little known about the impact of these modifications on cellular systems. Herein, we synthesized eight types of polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) bearing different functional groups, and investigated their effects on interactions with cellular membranes. As models for particle membrane interactions, hemolysis assays using human red blood cells and culture with A549 cells were utilized. Under protein-free conditions, the NPs showed a wide distribution of zeta potentials (¿Ps) which showed a good correlation with their hemolytic potential. However, in the presence of serum or lung lining fluid, the ¿Ps of all NPs coalesced towards a single common negative value and showed neither hemolytic activity nor cytotoxicity to A549 cells. Lipase and protease treatment of the coronated particles did not restore their reactivity. These result simply proves that particle functionalization influences the stability of the particle corona which, if intact, prevents hemolytic activity and membrane disrupture.