Polymeric microspheres were evaluated as an oral antigen delivery system for immunization with influenza virus. The immune responses obtained were compared after either oral or systemic immunization of BALB/c mice using purified, formalin-inactivated influenza virus type A/H3N2, either encapsulated in biodegradable and biocompatible microspheres or free in solution. The immunogenicity of formalin-treated influenza vaccine was preserved during the microencapsulation process, and the microencapsulated antigen induced protective immune responses after systemic immunization that were equal to or higher than those induced by conventional vaccine. When administered orally to primed animals, microencapsulated antigen induced levels of anti-influenza antibodies in saliva that were higher than and in serum that were comparable to those obtained by systemic immunization. Furthermore, oral booster immunization provided virtually complete protection of animals challenged with live virus.