Fully synthetic polymers were used for the prepn. of hydrogel beads and capsules, in a processing scheme that, originally designed for calcium alginate, was adapted to a \"tandem\" process, that is the combination a phys. gelation with a chem. crosslinking. The polymers feature a Tetronic backbone (tetra armed Pluronics), which exhibits a reverse thermal gelation in water solns. within a physiol. range of temps. and pHs. The polymers bear terminal reactive groups that allow for a mild, but effective chem. crosslinking. Given an appropriate temp. jump, the thermal gelation provides a hardening kinetics similar to that of alginate. With slower kinetics, the chem. crosslinking then develops an irreversible and elastic gel structure, and dets. its transport properties. In the present article this process was optimized for the prodn. of monodisperse, high elastic, hydrogel microbeads, and liq.-core microcapsules. The authors also show the feasibility of the use of liq.-core microcapsules in cell encapsulation. In preliminary expts., CHO cells were successfully encapsulated preserving their viability during the process and after incubation. The advantages of this process are mainly in the use of synthetic polymers, which provide great flexibility in the mol. design. This, in principle, allows for a precise tailoring of mech. and transport properties and of bioactivity of the hydrogels, and also for a precise control in material purifn. [on SciFinder (R)]