The advanced development of cell carriers for regenerative medicine and cell therapy demands materials able to sustain cell viability prior to their delivery to the target tissue, an ability that can be controlled by the shape, size and degradability of the matrix. TEMPO-oxidized nanofibrillar cellulose (ToNFC) macromolecules are negatively charged and therefore can be easily formulated by ionotropic gelation into beads of varying sizes that can release their payload through an erosion-controlled process. We report here for the first time on the preparation of ToNFC beads via ionic gelation using CaCl2 and on their loading with OSTEO-1 rat bone cells, with a view to examine their capacity of sustaining the cell viability and of releasing the bone cells in a controlled manner. The initial results obtained demonstrate that ToNFC is able to protect the OSTEO-1 cells and to maintain their viability for at least 2 weeks. Following gradual disintegration of the beads, a significant cell release and subsequent proliferation was observed after 7 days. These results indicate the considerable potential of nanofibrillar cellulose (ToNFC) for applications in cell therapy and regenerative medicine.