Smooth, highly spherical, crosslinked chitosan microspheres in the size range of 45-300 microns loaded with progesterone were prepared by glutaraldehyde crosslinking of an aqueous acetic acid dispersion of chitosan containing progesterone in a non-aqueous dispersion medium consisting of liquid paraffin and petroleum ether stabilized using sorbitan sesquioleate. In vitro release of the drug into phosphate buffer at 37 degrees C was determined as a function of crosslinking density of the microspheres and particle size. The extent of drug release had a remarkable dependence on the crosslinking density of the microspheres, the highly crosslinked spheres releasing only around 35% of the incorporated steroid in 40 days compared to 70% from spheres lightly crosslinked. Determination of the in vivo bioavailability of the steroid from microsphere formulation by intramuscular injection in rabbits showed that a plasma concentration of 1 to 2 ng/ml was maintained up to 5 months without a high 'burst effect'. Data obtained suggest that the crosslinked chitosan microspheres would be an interesting system for long term delivery of steroids.