Biodegradable pellets intended for either parenteral or oral use were successfully prepared from low molecular weight poly(DL-lactide) (low MW PLA, MW' = 2000) or a relatively high molecular weight poly(L-lactide) (L-PLA, MW = 215,000) sample by a simple direct compression technique without the use of heat or organic solvents. The energy imparted during the compression step caused fusion of the low MW PLA particles. Pellets prepared from low MW PLA swelled considerably before eroding in pH 7.4 buffer, but acted as an enteric matrix in 0.1 M HCl. This was attributed to the high carboxyl endgroup:polymer chain ratio which increased with a decrease in molecular weight. Interactions between salts of basic drugs (quinidine sulfate or propranolol hydrochloride) and the polymeric carboxyl endgroups caused retardation in the drug release from low MW PLA pellets. The drug release from L-PLA pellets was independent of the pH of the dissolution media and drug-polymer interactions were absent. The drug release could be increased by admixing sodium chloride prior to compression, or reduced by dipping the pellets into methylene chloride for a short period of time.