The influence of lipid composition, internal pH and internal buffering capacity on the retention properties of vincristine loaded into large unilamellar vesicle (LUV) systems in response to transmembrane pH gradients has been assessed. It is shown that increasing the (saturated) acyl chain length of the phosphatidylcholine molecule, increasing the internal buffering capacity, and decreasing the internal pH all result in increased drug retention. Further, a study of the pH dependence on the rates of accumulation indicate that uptake proceeds via the neutral form of the vincristine molecule. This uptake is associated with an activation energy of 37 kcal/mol for DSPC/Chol LUVs. It is shown that the major improvement in drug retention in vitro is achieved by employing low initial internal pH values, where 90% retention is obtained over 24 h for an initial internal pH of 2. Improved retention in vivo was also observed where a drug-to-lipid ratio approx. 4-fold greater at 24 h was maintained.