Gel-like coacervates that adhere to both hydrophilic and hydrophobic substrates under water have recently been prepared by ionically cross-linking poly(allylamine) (PAH) with pyrophosphate (PPi) and tripolyphosphate (TPP). Among the many advantages of these underwater adhesives (which include their simple preparation and low cost) is their ability to dissolve on demand when exposed to high or low pH. To further analyze their stimulus-responsive properties, we have investigated the pH and ionic strength effects on the formation, rheology and adhesion of PAH/PPi and PAH/TPP complexes. The ionic cross-linker concentrations needed to form these adhesives decreased with increasing pH and ionic strength (although the complexes ceased to form when the parent solution pH exceeded ca. 8.5; i.e., the effective pKa of PAH). Once formed, their ionic cross-links were most stable (as inferred from their relaxation times) at near-neutral or slightly alkaline pH values (of roughly 6.5-9) and at low ionic strengths. The decrease in ionic cross-link stability within complexes prepared at other pH values and at elevated (150-300 mM) NaCl concentrations diminished both the strength and longevity of adhesion (although, under most conditions tested, the short-term tensile adhesion strengths remained above 10(5) Pa). Additionally, the sensitivity of PAH/PPi and PAH/TPP complexes to ionic strength was demonstrated as a potential route to injectable adhesive design (where spontaneous adhesive formation was triggered via injection of low-viscosity, colloidal PAH/TPP dispersions into phosphate buffered saline). Thus, while the sensitivity of ionically cross-linked PAH networks to pH and ionic strength can weaken their adhesion, it can also impart them with additional functionality, such as minimally invasive, injectable delivery, and ability to form and dissolve their bonds on demand.