Abstract Spherical bioactive glass 13–93 particles, with a particle size distribution of 50–125 μm, were combined with bioabsorbable poly- l, dl-lactide 70/30 using twin-screw extrusion. The composite rods containing 0, 20, 30, 40 and 50 wt% of bioactive glass were further self-reinforced by drawing to a diameter of approximately 3 mm. The bioactive glass spheres were well dispersed and the open pores were formed on the composite surface during drawing. The initial mechanical properties were studied. The addition of bioactive glass reduced the bending strength, bending modulus, shear strength, compression strength and torsion strength of poly- l, dl-lactide. However, the strain at maximum bending load increased in self-reinforced composites. Initially brittle composites became ductile in self-reinforcing. The bioactivity was studied in phosphate buffered saline for up to 12 days. The formation of calcium phosphate precipitation was followed using scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray analysis. Results showed that the bioactive glass addition affected the initial mechanical properties and bioactivity of the composites. It was concluded that the optimal bioactive glass content depends on the applications of the composites.