Nanoparticle exposure is monitored by a combination of two label-free and non-invasive biosensor devices which detect cellular shape and viscoelasticity (quartz crystal microbalance), cell motility and the dynamics of epithelial cell-cell contacts (electric cell-substrate impedance sensing). With these tools we have studied the impact of nanoparticle shape on cellular physiology. Gold (Au) nanoparticles coated with CTAB were synthesized and studied in two distinct shapes: Spheres with a diameter of (43 ± 4) nm and rods with a size of (38 ± 7) nm × (17 ± 3) nm. Dose-response experiments were accompanied by conventional cytotoxicity tests as well as fluorescence and dark-field microscopy to visualize the intracellular particle distribution. We found that spherical gold nanoparticles with identical surface functionalization are generally more toxic and more efficiently ingested than rod-shaped particles. We largely attribute the higher toxicity of CTAB-coated spheres as compared to rod-shaped particles to a higher release of toxic CTAB upon intracellular aggregation.