The effects of sol gel processes, i.e., acid-catalyzed gelation, base-catalyzed gelation and base-catalyzed precipitation routes, on the encapsulation of gentamicin were investigated. The resulting xerogels were characterized using a series of complementary instrumental techniques, i.e., the adsorption/desorption of nitrogen, small-angle X-ray scattering, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The encapsulated gentamicin samples were tested against a series of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial strains. The best antimicrobial activity was observed with the encapsulated gentamicin that was prepared via the precipitation route, even in comparison with the neat antibiotic, especially in the case of the Gram-positive strain Staphylococcus aureus. The gentamicin concentration on the outermost surface and the zeta potential were identified as factors that affected the highest efficiency, as observed in the case of encapsulation via the base-catalyzed process. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.