Poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) was used as a co-emulsifier in the preparation of insulin-loaded solid lipid nanoparticles (SLN) with hydrogenated castor oil as lipid matrix and lecithin as surfactant by double-emulsion technique. The effects of PLGA on the preparation and hypoglycaemic activity of insulin-loaded SLN were studied. The results showed that with the supplement of PLGA, the encapsulation efficiency and loading capacity were increased significantly from 79.08 +/- 1.62 to 85.57 +/- 3.21% and 1.58 +/- 0.03 to 1.71 +/- 0.06%, whereas the surface charge and particle size were changed insignificantly from -25.87 +/- 2.65 to -22.67 +/- 1.19 mv and 431.0 +/- 16.1 to 397.0 +/- 68.0 nm, respectively. In vivo studies demonstrated that PLGA increased the sustained hypoglycaemic activity from 12 to 36 h and 24 to 120 h in normal and steptozotocin-induced diabetic mice after a single intramuscular injection of the insulin-loaded SLN. These results demonstrated that PLGA could enhance the entrapment of insulin in the nanoparticles, and more importantly, prolong the time of hypoglycaemic activity of the insulin-loaded SLN.