Naturally derived materials are becoming widely used in the biomedical field. Soy protein has advantages over various types of natural proteins employed for biomedical applications due to its low price, non-animal origin and relatively long storage time and stability. In the current study soy protein isolate (SPI) was investigated as a matrix for wound dressing applications. The antibiotic drug gentamicin was incorporated into the matrix for local controlled release and, thus, protection against bacterial infection. Homogeneous yellowish films were cast from aqueous solutions. After cross-linking they combined high tensile strength and Young's modulus with the desired ductility. The plasticizer type, cross-linking agent and method of cross-linking were found to strongly affect the tensile properties of the SPI films. Selected SPI films were tested for relevant physical properties and the gentamicin release profile. The cross-linking method affected the degree of water uptake and the weight loss profile. The water vapor transmission rate of the films was in the desired range for wound dressings (∼2300 g m(-2) day(-1)) and was not affected by the cross-linking method. The gentamicin release profile exhibited a moderate burst effect followed by a decreasing release rate which was maintained for at least 4 weeks. Diffusion was the dominant release mechanism of gentamicin from cross-linked SPI films. Appropriate selection of the process parameters yielded SPI wound dressings with the desired mechanical and physical properties and drug release behavior to protect against bacterial infection. These unique structures are thus potentially useful as burn and ulcer dressings.