Ultrasmall iron oxide nanoparticles (USIONPs) (<4 nm) have recently attracted significant attention because of their potential as positive T1 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent contrary to larger superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (>6 nm) which act as negative T2 MRI contrast agents. However, studies on the cellular uptake behavior of these nanoparticles are very limited compared to their counterpart, larger-sized superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. In particular, the effects of specific nanoparticle parameters on the cellular uptake behavior of USIONPs by various cancer cells are not available. Here, we specifically investigated the role of USIONPs' surface functionalities [tannic acid (TA) and quinic acid (QA)] in mediating cellular uptake behavior of cancer cells pertaining to primary (U87 cells) and metastatic (MDA-MB-231Br cells) brain malignancies. Here, we chose TA and QA as representative capping molecules, wherein TA coating provides a general negatively charged nontargeting surface while QA provides a tumor-targeting surface as QA and its derivatives are known to interact with selectin receptors expressed on tumor cells and tumor endothelium. We observed differential cellular uptake in the case of TA-and QA-coated USIONPs by cancer cells. Both the cell types showed significantly higher cellular uptake of QA-coated USIONPs compared to TA-coated USIONPs at 4, 24, and 72 h. Blocking studies indicated that P-selectin cell surface receptors, in part, mediated the cellular uptake of QA-coated USIONPs. Given that P-selectin is overexpressed in cancer cells, tumor microenvironment, and at the metastatic niche, QA-coated USIONPs hold potential to be utilized as a platform for tumor-targeted drug delivery and in imaging and detection of primary and metastatic tumors.