In this study, acrylamide (AAm) was grafted onto poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) in solution with UV radiation, and membranes were prepared from the graft copolymer (PVA-g-AAm) for transdermal release of salicylic acid (SA) at in vitro conditions. Permeation studies were carried out using a Franz-type diffusion cell. Release characteristics of SA through PVA and PVA-g-AAm membranes were studied using 2.0 mg/mL SA solutions. Effects of the presence of AAm in the copolymer, pH of donor and acceptor solution, and concentration of SA and temperature on the release of SA were investigated. Permeation of SA through the membranes was found to be pH-dependent, and increase in pH generally increased the release percentage of SA, and the presence of AAm in the membrane positively affected the permeation. The effect of concentrations of SA on the permeation was also searched using saturated solution of SA, and permeated amount of SA was found to be less than in the case of unsaturated SA solution. Studies showed that the release of SA from PVA-g-AAm membranes was temperature-sensitive and increase in temperature increased the permeation rate. 82.76% (w/w) SA was released at the end of 24 h at (39 ±1)°C, and the overall activation energy for the permeation of SA through PVA-g-AAm membranes was found to be 19.65 kJ/mol. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.