The likelihood of oral exposure to nanoparticles (NPs) is increasing, and it is necessary to evaluate the oral bioavailability of NPs. In vitro approaches could help reducing animal studies, but validation against in vivo studies is essential. Previously, we assessed the translocation of 50 nm polystyrene NPs of different charges (neutral, positive and negative) using a Caco-2/HT29-MTX in vitro intestinal translocation model. The NPs translocated in a surface charge-dependent manner. The present study aimed to validate this in vitro intestinal model by an in vivo study. For this, rats were orally exposed to a single dose of these polystyrene NPs and the uptake in organs was determined. A negatively charged NP was taken up more than other NPs, with the highest amounts in kidney (37.4 µg/g tissue), heart (52.8 µg/g tissue), stomach wall (98.3 µg/g tissue) and small intestinal wall (94.4 µg/g tissue). This partly confirms our in vitro findings, where the same NPs translocated to the highest extent. The estimated bioavailability of different types of NPs ranged from 0.2 to 1.7 % in vivo, which was much lower than in vitro (1.6–12.3 %). Therefore, the integrated in vitro model cannot be used for a direct prediction of the bioavailability of orally administered NPs. However, the model can be used for prioritizing NPs before further in vivo testing for risk assessment. © 2015, The Author(s).