Bone continuously adapts its internal structure to accommodate the functional demands of its mechanical environment and strain-induced flow of interstitial fluid is believed to be the primary mediator of mechanical stimuli to bone cells in vivo. In vitro investigations have shown that bone cells produce important biochemical signals in response to fluid flow applied using parallel-plate flow chamber (PPFC) systems. However, the exact mechanical stimulus experienced by the cells within these systems remains unclear. To fully understand this behaviour represents a most challenging multi-physics problem involving the interaction between deformable cellular structures and adjacent fluid flows. In this study, we use a fluid-structure interaction computational approach to investigate the nature of the mechanical stimulus being applied to a single osteoblast cell under fluid flow within a PPFC system. The analysis decouples the contribution of pressure and shear stress on cellular deformation and for the first time highlights that cell strain under flow is dominated by the pressure in the PPFC system rather than the applied shear stress. Furthermore, it was found that strains imparted on the cell membrane were relatively low whereas significant strain amplification occurred at the cell-substrate interface. These results suggest that strain transfer through focal attachments at the base of the cell are the primary mediators of mechanical signals to the cell under flow in a PPFC system. Such information is vital in order to correctly interpret biological responses of bone cells under in vitro stimulation and elucidate the mechanisms associated with mechanotransduction in vivo.