The objectives were to investigate the effects of formulation variables on the release of drug and to optimize the formulation of chitosan microparticles loaded with drug for controlled release using response surface methodology. Chitosan microparticles were prepared by dropping a chitosan solution into sodium tripolyphosphate (TPP) through ionic cross-linking. The release behaviour of felodipine as a model drug was affected by preparation variables. A central composite design was used to evaluate and optimize the effect of preparation variables, chitosan concentration (X1), the pH of the TPP solution (X2) and cross-linking time (X3) on the cumulative per cent drug release (Y) in 24 h. Chitosan concentration and cross-linking time affected negatively the release of felodipine, while the pH of the TPP did so positively and was the highest influential factor. The optimum rate of drug release, 100% in 24 h, was achieved at 1.8% chitosan concentration, a pH 8.7 for the TPP solution and 9.7 min cross-linking time.