Monodisperse Ca-alginate microspheres were prepared using the membrane emulsification method. Three ionic types of drugs (anionic, cationic and non-ionic) were incorporated into the microspheres, and the effects of sodium alginate concentration and the pressure applied during the dispersing process on the properties of the microspheres were examined. Monodisperse microspheres were obtained when the concentration of alginate solution was 2 wt% and the pressure applied was 0.4 x 10(5) Pa. The mean size of microspheres was approximately 4 microm. Lidocaine x HCl (cationic), sodium salicylate (anionic) and 4-acetamidophenol (non-ionic) were selected as ionic model drugs and included in the alginate microspheres. Lidocaine x HCl (cationic drug) release was more retarded than that of the anionic drug, because of the electrostatic attraction between the negative charge of the ionized carboxyl group in the alginate chain and the positive charge of the cationic drug. In acidic release medium, a slow release was observed due to the low swelling characteristic and the increased viscosity of alginate, regardless of ionic type of drug.