Abstract Stable hollow microcapsules composed of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and poly (allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) were produced by layer-by-layer adsorption of polyelectrolytes onto CaCO3 microparticles. Subsequently the core was removed by addition of chelating agents for calcium ions. Zeta potential studies showed charge reversal with deposition of successive polyelectrolyte layers, indicating that the alternate electrostatic adsorption of polyelectrolytes of opposite charge was successfully achieved. The size and surface morphology of the capsules was characterized by various microscopy techniques. The pH responsive loading behavior was elucidated by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) studies using fluorescence labeled dextran (FITC–dextran) and labeled BSA (FITC–BSA). CLSM images confirmed the open (pH≤6) and closed state (pH≥7) of the capsules. A model drug bovine serum albumin (BSA) was spontaneously loaded below its isoelectric point into hollow microcapsules, where BSA is positively charged. The loading of the BSA into the microcapsules was found to be dependent on the feeding concentration and pH of the medium. 65% of the loaded BSA was released over 7h of which about 34% was released in the first hour. These findings demonstrate that (CMC/PAH)2 hollow capsules can be further exploited as a potential drug delivery system.