Poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microspheres containing all-trans retinoic acid (atRA) were prepared by emulsion/solvent evaporation technique. PLGA (50:50) with inherent viscosities of 0.17 and 0.39 dL g(-1) was used. Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) or PVA and sodium oleate (SO) combinations (4:1) were used to stabilize the emulsions. The effect of polymer viscosity, emulsifier type and concentration on the in vitro release of atRA from the microspheres was investigated. The stability of the microparticles was also tested at the temperatures of 4, 25 and 40 degrees C. The particle size ranged between 1-2 mu m. Microspheres were smooth and spherical in shape, as determined by scanning electron microscope (SEM) photographs. The yield of microspheres ranged from 50-75% and the encapsulation efficiency was determined between 45-75%. In vitro release studies showed that atRA release from microspheres lasted for 11 days.