The main objective of this paper is to carefully study the fields induced in flasks exposed to RF electromagnetic fields. The study focuses on the widely used 60 mm Petri dishes and rectangular T-75 flasks for the two following cases: 1) cells in homogeneous suspension and 2) cell monolayers. The dependence of the coupling and the homogeneity of the SAR distribution on frequency (0.7 GHz to 2.5 GHz), polarization (E, H and k polarizations) and the amount of medium (1.9 mm to 4.7 mm medium height) is studied. In addition, the effects of the environment, meniscus and field impedance as well as the distortion of the incident field are discussed. Based on these results, advantages and disadvantages of different fundamental designs of apparatus used in the past are compared. These are TEM cells, HF chambers, radial transmission lines (RTL), waveguides and wire patch cells. Furthermore, the major optimization parameters are identified for the development of highly optimized exposure systems, enabling the conduct of high quality experiments.