The winners are Americans James Rothman of Yale University, Randy Schekman of the University of California and German biochemist Thomas C. Südhof of Stanford University.
"The 2013 Nobel Prize honors three scientists who have solved the mystery of how the cell organizes its transport system," said Professor Juleen Zierath, chair of the Nobel committee.
Known as vesicle traffic, the discoveries have helped us see how individual cells work, and what happens when the transport in the cell goes wrong, such as in botulism or tetanus.
The discoveries, made in the seventies, eighties and nineties also have their uses in finding out what goes wrong when someone has diabetes.
Speaking to Swedish Radio's Science Department, Professor Scheckman says his wife guessed exactly who was calling their California home in the middle of the night: "She woke up when she heard the phone ring, and I heard her voice immediately saying 'That's it, that's it'", he said, "I jumped out of bed and heard the phone ring again, and realised what time it was, and I thought 'This must be it.'"
"I then hugged my wife, and repeatedly said 'Oh my God, oh my God'", he added.
The three laureates will split the prize money of SEK 8 million (US$ 1.25 million) awarded on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish scientist and inventor Alfred Nobel, who created the prizes in his will.