Abstract Nanoparticles in primary form and nanoproducts might elicit different toxicological responses. We compared paint-related nanoparticles with respect to effects on endothelial oxidative stress, cytotoxicity and cell adhesion molecule expression. Primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells were exposed to primary nanoparticles (fine, photocatalytic or nanosized TiO(2), aluminium silicate, carbon black, nano-silicasol or axilate) and dust from sanding reference- or nanoparticle-containing paints. Most of the samples increased cell surface expressions of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), but paint sanding dust samples generally generated less response than primary particles of TiO(2) and carbon black. We found no relationship between the expression of adhesion molecules, cytotoxicity and production of reactive oxygen species. In conclusion, sanding dust from nanoparticle-containing paint did not generate more oxidative stress or expression of cell adhesion molecules than sanding dust from paint without nanoparticles, whereas the primary particles had the largest effect on mass basis.