Spherical pellets containing theophylline, calcium acetate and microcrystalline cellulose were extruded and spheronized, before being coated with six different pectins or alginates by interfacial complexation. The aim of this study was to discover the effect of the coatings on physico-mechanical properties that will be crucial in determining the pellets' utility as sustained release systems. An insoluble, smooth and uniformly thick coat of calcium polysaccharide was formed around the core pellets. A factorial experiment was designed to investigate the effect of pellet size and polysaccharide type and concentration on the entrapment efficiency, mechanical properties and other physical characteristics. Coated pellets were observed by scanning electron microscopy and, depending on the particular polysaccharide used, the dry coats were found to be 30'80 'm thick. The size of pellet, the type and concentration of polysaccharide influenced the yield of theophylline in the coated pellets. Although the mechanical properties of the pellets were improved by applying any of the gel coats, use of an alginate with a high content of guluronic acid or an amidated pectin coating gave the best results. This is probably because both of these have significant potential to form very stable cross-links within the gel coats.