Alginate hydrogels are currently being employed and explored for a broad range of medical applications including cell encapsulation, drug delivery, and tissue engineering. In these capacities, knowledge of the mechanical and material properties of the hydrogels and the properties that govern and influence them is necessary to adequately design and effectively use these systems. Although much is known about the mechanical properties of alginate in compression and shear, little is known about the tensile characteristics. Thus, an extensive tensile assessment of alginate hydrogels was completed as a function of alginate type, formulation, gelling conditions, incubation, and strain rate. In general, the initial tensile behavior and properties of alginate hydrogels were highly dependent on the choice of the alginate polymer and how it was processed. Specifically, high guluronic acid containing alginate polymers yielded stronger, more ductile hydrogels than high mannuronic acid containing alginates. The ultimate stress, ultimate strain, and tensile modulus were decreased by increased phosphate concentrations, solution reconstitution with phosphate buffered saline instead of culture media, and peptide modification. Incubation of hydrogels for at least 7 days diminished many of the initial tensile property differences associated with formulation and gelling conditions. Overall, by controlling the specific alginate polymer and processing methods, a wide range of tensile properties are available from these hydrogels.