A prerequisite for progress in the design of novel drug delivery systems is the development of excipients that are capable of fulfilling multifunctional roles such as controlling the release of the drug according to the therapeutic needs. Although several polymers have been utilised in the development of specialised drug delivery systems, their scope in dosage form design can be enlarged through combining different polymers. When a polymer is cross-linked or complexed with an oppositely charged polyelectrolyte, a threedimensional network is formed in which the drug can be incorporated to control its release. The swelling properties and release kinetics of two model drugs with different water solubilities (i.e. diltiazem and ibuprofen) from monolithic matrix tablets consisting of an interpolyelectrolyte complex between chitosan and polycarbophil are reported. Matrix tablets consisting of this polymeric complex without drug or excipients exhibited extremely high swelling properties that are completely reversible upon drying. The drug release from matrix systems with different formulations depended on the concentration of the chitosan-polycarbophil interpolyelectrolyte complex and approached zero order release kinetics for both model drugs. The chitosan-polycarbophil interpolyelectrolyte complex has demonstrated a high potential as an excipient for the production of swellable matrix systems with controlled drug release properties.