The body distribution and tumor accumulation of polymers were evaluated using poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) which has the simplest chemical structure among water-soluble polymers, similar to poly(ethylene glycol). To study the effect of polymer size on the tumor accumulation, we used not only water-soluble PVA with different molecular weights but also PVA microgels prepared through gamma-irradiation of aqueous PVA solutions. The PVA specimens in the aqueous solution were intravenously injected to mice carrying a tumor mass at their footpad. Both types of PVA (water-soluble and microgel) of larger size were retained in the blood circulation for longer time periods and excreted more slowly from the kidney than those of smaller size. The plasma half-life period of PVA became longer with increasing size both for the water-soluble and microgel PVA, indicating that the body fate of PVA is governed only by the size. Both the water-soluble PVA and PVA microgels were accumulated in tumor tissue to a significantly greater extent than in normal tissue. The size dependence of the plasma half-life period and tumor accumulation was similar between the water-soluble PVA and the PVA microgels and the tumor accumulation became maximum around the size of 60 nm both for water-soluble and microgel PVA. A pharmacokinetical study demonstrated that the tumor uptake rate index of PVA decreased with the increase in PVA size. On the other hand, the greater the size, the larger the value of the area under the blood concentration-time curve (AUC). In addition, the PVA around 60 nm in diameter showed the smallest liver clearance. It was concluded that the balance between the uptake rate and the AUC as well as the liver clearance resulted in the maximum accumulation of PVA with the size of 60 nm.