Chitosan microspheres were evaluated for sustained-release of recombinant human interleukin-2 (rIL-2) in this study. In addition, the effects of different formulation factors, such as chitosan and protein concentrations, the volume of sodium sulfate solution, addition technique of rIL-2, and presence of glutaraldehyde during the encapsulation process, on microsphere characteristics were investigated. Chitosan microspheres containing rIL-2 were prepared by using the precipitation technique. The average diameter of microspheres was between 1.11-1.59 mum. Recombinant IL-2 encapsulation efficiency in these micropheres was high (75-98%). Formulation factors had no effect on the microsphere size. Recombinant IL-2 had been released from chitosan microspheres over a period of 3 months. The encapsulated rIL-2 remained biologically active and could be completely recovered from the release medium. Briefly, rIL-2 was released from chitosan microspheres in a sustained manner. The efficacy of rIL-2 loaded chitosan microspheres was studied using two model cells, HeLa and L-strain cell lines. Chitosan microspheres were added to the cells at different concentrations, and the amount of rIL-2 was assayed using the ELISA kit. Cell culture studies indicated that microspheres were uptaken by cells, and rIL-2 was released from the microspheres. Cellular uptake of rIL-2-loaded microspheres was dose dependent. It can be said that chitosan microsphere is a suitable carrier for rIL-2 delivery. (C) 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc. and the American Pharmaceutical Association.