Abstract In this study, we used the colloid probe atomic force microscopy (AFM) technique to investigate the adhesion force between a living cell and a silica colloid particle in a Leibovitz's L-15 medium (L-15). The L-15 liquid maintained the pharmaceutical conditions necessary to keep the cells alive in the outside environment during the AFM experiment. The force curves in such a system showed a steric repulsion in the compression force curve, due to the compression of the cells by the colloid probe, and an adhesion force in the decompression force curve, due to binding events between the cell and the probe. We also investigated for the first time how the position on the cell surface, the strength of the pushing force, and the residence time of the probe at the cell surface individually affected the adhesion force between a living cell and a 6.84 μm diameter silica colloid particle in L-15. The position of measuring the force on the cell surface was seen not to affect the value of the maximum adhesion force. The loading force was also seen not to notably affect the value of the maximum adhesion force, if it was small enough not to pierce and damage the cell. The residence time of the probe at the cell surface, however, clearly affected the adhesion force, where a longer residence time gave a larger maximum force. From these results, we could conclude that the AFM force measurements should be made using a loading force small enough not to damage the cell and a fixed residence time, when comparing results of different systems.