Biodegradable hydrophilic polymers poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) and polyethylene oxide-co-lactic acid (PELA) were used to encapsulate a small hydrophilic prodrug (PROLI/NO) as a strategy to deliver nitric oxide (NO) by inhalation. The microparticles were prepared using double emulsion and solvent evaporation, followed by freeze-drying. The NO release kinetics were characterized by three parameters: the maximum concentration of NO per unit weight of microparticles, C(max) (nM mg(-1)); the window of time for which the concentration exceeded 50% of C(max), W(50) (min); and the initial rate of release, R(i) (nM mg(-1) min(-1)). PLGA-based microparticles did not encapsulate PROLI/NO. PELA-based microparticles demonstrated an entrapment efficiency rate of 43%, a mass median diameter of 2.3 micro m, and NO release in a physiological buffer characterized by C(max) = 123, W(50) = 4.11, and R(i) = 78.7. Addition of gelatin as a hydrophilic binding moiety in the first emulsion allowed PLGA-based microparticles to encapsulate PROLI/NO; however, the mass median diameter was too large for inhalation (23.5 micro m). It is concluded that the hydrophilic polyethylene glycol-moiety in PELA allows for efficient encapsulation of PROLI/NO, and PELA-based microparticles might be a strategy to generate a stable inhalable form of NO.