Local delivery systems of antimicrobial agents for treatment of the periodontal diseases received considerable attention during the past decade due to the disadvantages of the systemic administration. An ideal formulation should exhibit ease of delivery, a good retention at the application site, and a controlled release of the drug. The application of bioadhesive gels provides a long stay in the oral cavity, adequate drug penetration, high efficacy and acceptability. In dentistry and oral medicine. various applications of chitosan, which is a bioadhesive polymer have been proposed due to its favorable properties such as biocompatibility and biodegradability. The aim of this study was to determine the antimicrobial activity of chitosan formulations either in get or film form against a periodontal pathogen, Porphyromonas gingalvalis. The viscosity, bioadhesive properties and antimicrobial activity of chitosans at different molecular weight and deacetylation degree were evaluated in the absence or presence of chlorhexidine gluconate (Chx), incorporated into the formulations at 0.1 and 0.2% concentrations. The flow property of the gels were found to be suitable for topical application on the oral mucosa and to syringe into the periodontal pocket. Bioadhesion of the gels and films examined ex-vivo using fresh porcine buccal mucosa showed that both the film and gel formulations exert bioadhesive properties and was not affected by incorporation of Chx. Chitosan is shown to have an antimicrobial activity against P. gingivalis and this was higher with high molecular weight chitosan. The combination of chitosan with Chx showed a higher activity when compared to that of Chx alone, which would provide Chx application at lower concentrations thus avoiding its unwanted side effects. Chitosan films and gels seem to be promising delivery systems for local therapy of periodontal diseases with its bioadhesive property and antimicrobial activity. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.