In the present study, dextran-epichlorohydrin hydrogels were employed as carriers for the controlled release of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). The hydrogels were synthesized from 50% (by weight) monomeric crosslinker, epichlorohydrin, containing dextran mixtures by intermolecular side-chain reaction of dextran-hydroxyl groups with epichlorohydrin-epoxy groups. The hydrogel disks of 3-mm diameter and 1.5-mm thickness have a high swelling capacity (EWC = 650%) and enough mechanical stability for the studies in vivo. Impregnation of EGF and bFGF into the dried hydrogels was carried out by use of phosphate buffered saline solution (PBS, pH =7.4) containing 0.5 mu g mL(-1) EGF and 0.1 mu g mL(-1) bFGF, respectively. The ill vitro release of growth factors was detected by fluorescence spectroscopy. The prolonged release of EGF is continued up to the 14th day, in comparison with a 26-day release of bFGF. The in vivo studies were realized with subcutaneously implanted hydrogels in Wistar albino rats. The rate of neovascularization was analyzed statistically using one-way analysis of significance with EGF and bFGF incorporated hydrogels. In conclusion, dextran-epichlorohydrin hydrogels were shown to be an alternative delivery system for the release of growth factors. (c) 2005 Wiley Periodicals. Inc.