Poorly soluble vinpocetine was selected as the model drug to prepare a microemulsion in order to increase solubility and in vitro transdermal delivery of the drug. Oleic acid was chosen as the oil phase due to its excellent solubilizing capacity. PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (Cremophor RH40) was employed as a surfactant (S) and purified diethylene glycol monoethyl ether (Transcutol P) was used as a cosurfactant (CoS). The effects of diverse types of oil, different weight ratios of surfactant to cosurfactant (S/CoS) on the solubility and permeation rate of vinpocetine were investigated. The optimized microemulsion consisted of 1% vinpocetine, 4% oleic acid, 20% Cremophor RH40, 10% Transcutol P and 65% distilled water (w/w), in which drug solubility was about 2,100 fold compared to that in water and the apparent permeation rate across the excised rat skin was 15.0 +/- 2.5 microg/cm2/h. Finally the physicochemical properties of the optimized microemulsion including pH, viscosity, refractive index, conductivity and particle size distribution were examined, which showed stable behavior after more than 12 months at ambient temperature. The irritation study showed that optimized microemulsion was a safe transdermal delivery system.