Tracer kinetics in healthy human volunteers was studied applying stable isotopes of cerium citrate to obtain biokinetic human data for the urinary excretion of cerium. These data were then used to compare and validate the biokinetic model for lanthanides (cerium) proposed by Taylor and Leggett (Radiat Prot Dosim 105:193–198, 2003), which is substantially improved and more realistic than the biokinetic model currently recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP Publication 67, 1993); both models are primarily based on animal data. In the present study, 16 adults were investigated and two cerium tracers were simultaneously administered, both intravenously and/or orally. The cerium concentrations in urine were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Ingested cerium citrate was poorly absorbed, and its low excretion was similar to the prediction of the biokinetic model of Taylor and Leggett. In contrast, after injection of cerium citrate its urinary excretion was rapidly increased, and the model underestimated the experimental results. These results suggest that urinary excretion of cerium may be dependent on the administered chemical form of cerium (speciation).