Heparin-immobilized porous biodegradable scaffolds were fabricated to release basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) in a sustained manner. Heparin was covalently conjugated onto the surface of macroporous PLGA scaffolds fabricated by a gas-foaming/salt-leaching method. Sustained release of bFGF was successfully achieved for over 20 days due to high affinity of bFGF onto the immobilized heparin. It appears that bFGF release rate was regulated by the specific interaction between bFGF and heparin. The bFGF fraction released from the scaffolds maintained its bioactivity, as judged from determining the proliferation extent of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in vitro. When heparin-immobilized scaffolds loaded with bFGF were implanted subcutaneously in vivo, they effectively induced the formation of blood vessels in the vicinity of the implant site. This study demonstrated that local and sustained delivery of angiogenic growth factor for tissue regeneration could be achieved by surface modification of porous scaffolds with heparin. (c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.