Two major hurdles in nanomedicine are the limited strategies for synthesizing stealth nanoparticles and the poor efficacy of the nanoparticles in translocating across the blood brain barrier (BBB). Here we examined the uptake and transcytosis of iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) grafted with biomimetic phosphorylcholine (PC) brushes in an in vitro BBB model system, and compared them with bare, PEG or PC-PEG mixture grafted IONPs. Hyperspectral imaging indicated IONP co-localization with cells. Quantitative analysis with total reflection X-ray fluorescence spectrometry showed that after 24 h, 78% of PC grafted, 68-69% of PEG or PC-PEG grafted, and 30% of bare IONPs were taken up by the BBB. Transcytosis of IONPs was time-dependent and after 24 h, 16-17% of PC or PC-PEG mixture grafted IONPs had passed the BBB model, significantly more than PEG grafted or bare IONPs. These findings point out that grafting of IONPs with PC is a viable strategy for improving the uptake and transcytosis of nanoparticles.