The aim of this study was to investigate the use of N-acetylglucosamine (NAG) to accelerate drug release from a lectin-modified carrier. A wheat germ agglutinin (WGA)-anchored salmeterol xinafoate (SalX)-loaded nanoparticles-in-microparticles system (NiMS) was prepared with an ionotropic gelation technique combined with a spray drying method. The formulated microparticles were spherical, with diameters ranging mainly from 2 to 8 μm; the drug entrapment efficiency was >70% (w/w), and the loading capacity was approximately 8% (w/w). Drug release from WGA-SalX-NiMS, within the first 4h, was approximately 30% less than that from SalX-NiMS, indicating an effect of lectin-modification to retard drug release from the NiMS. Due to "sugar-lectin" interactions, drug release from WGA-SalX-NiMS was substantially increased after the addition of NAG to the release medium. However, no significant influence of NAG was observed on the drug release profile of SalX-NiMS without WGA anchorage. The characteristics of NAG-WGA interaction may provide valuable insights into the "triggering-effects" of specific sugars on drug release from lectin-anchored carriers. These results suggest that it is possible to control drug release from a lectin-anchored drug delivery system using a specific sugar, and that the designed novel WGA-SalX-NiMS may be a suitable formulation for chronotherapy of asthma.