Acrylamide/itaconic acid hydrogels (AAm/IA) containing different amounts of itaconic acid prepared by irradiating with gamma radiation were used in experiments on swelling, diffusion, and interactions of the pharmaceuticals nicotine, nicotinic acid, nicotinamide, and nikethamide. AAm/IA hydrogel containing 60 mg itaconic acid and irradiated at 4.65 kGy has been used for swelling and diffusion studies in water and aqueous solutions of the pharmaceuticals. For this hydrogel, swelling studies indicated that swelling increased with the following order: water > nicotine > nikethamide > nicotinamide > nicotinic acid. Diffusions of water and the pharmaceuticals within hydrogels were found to be non-Fickian in character. The uptake of the pharmaceuticals to AAm/IA hydrogels was studied by batch adsorption technique at 25 degrees C. In the experiments of the adsorption, C-type adsorption in Giles's classification system was found. Some binding and thermodynamic parameters for AAm/IA hydrogel-pharmaceutical systems were calculated by using the Klotz method. The values of adsorption heat, free energy, and entropy of this system were found as negative values. (C) 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.