In this study, the first aim was to investigate the swelling and relaxation properties of lipid matrix on diffusional exponent (n). The second aim was to determine the desired release profile of metronidazole lipid matrix tablets. We prepared metronidazole lipid matrix granules using Carnauba wax, Beeswax, Stearic acid, Cutina HR, Precirol((R)) ATO5, and Compritol((R)) ATO888 by hot fusion method and pressed the tablets of these granules. In vitro release test was performed using a standard USP dissolution apparatus I (basket method) with a stirring rate of 100 rpm at 37 degrees C in 900 ml of 0.1 N hydrochloric acid, adjusted to pH 1.2, as medium for the formulations' screening. Hardness, diameter height ratio, friability, and swelling ratio were determined. Target release profile of metronidazole was also drawn. Stearic acid showed the highest and Carnauba wax showed the lowest release rates in all formulations used. Swelling ratios were calculated after the dissolution of tablets as 9.24%, 6.03%, 1.74%, and 1.07% for Cutina HR, Beeswax, Precirol((R)) ATO 5, and Compritol((R)) ATO 888, respectively. There was erosion in Stearic acid, but neither erosion nor swelling in Carnauba wax, was detected. According to the power law analysis, the diffusion mechanism was expressed as pure Fickian for Stearic acid and Carnauba wax and the coupling of Fickian and relaxation contributions for other Cutina HR, Beeswax, Compritol((R)) ATO 888, and Precirol((R)) ATO 5 tablets. It was found that Beeswax (k(d) = 2.13) has a very close drug release rate with the target profile (k(t) = 1.95). Our results suggested that swelling and relaxation properties of lipid matrices should be examined together for a correct evaluation on drug diffusion mechanism of insoluble matrices. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.