In vitro swelling and in vivo biocompatibility of radiation crosslinked acrylamide copolymers such as acrylamide/crotonic acid (AAm/CA) and acrylamide/itaconic acid (AAm/IA) were studied. The swelling kinetics of acrylamide copolymers were performed in distilled water, human serum and some simulated physiological fluids such as phosphate buffer, pH 7.4, glycine-HCl buffer, pH 1.1, physiological saline solution, and some swelling and diffusion parameters have been calculated. AAm/CA and AAm/IA hydrogels were subcutaneously implanted in rats for up to 10 weeks and the immediate short- and long-term tissue response to these implants were investigated. Histological analysis indicated that tissue reaction at the implant site progressed from an initial acute inflammatory response. No necrosis, tumorigenesis or infection was observed at the implant site up to 10 weeks. The radiation crosslinked AAm/CA and AAm/IA copolymers were found well tolerated, non-toxic and highly biocompatible. However, AAm/IA copolymer was not found to be compatible biomaterials, because one of the AAm/IA samples was disintegrated into small pieces in the rat. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.