A novel hydrocolloidal polymer, methylcellulose glutarate (MC-GA), was prepared by esterifying methylcellulose with glutaric anhydride. The formation of ester was confirmed by FTIR and NMR spectroscopy, DSC and elemental analysis. The physicochemical properties such as, rate of swelling in water, viscosity and hygroscopicity of MC-GA were determined and compared with those of methycellulose A (MC). Aspirin, theophylline and atenolol tablets were compacted on a Carver press using the wet granulation method. Each tablet contained: 200 mg active, 80 mg anhydrous lactose, 8 mg povidone, 4 mg magnesium stearate, 4 mg talc, 50 mg MC or MC-GA (drug-to-polymer ratio, 4:1). Contrary to the first-order release profile of all the drugs from the MC matrix tablets, a zero-order release was obtained from the MC-GA matrix tablets in water.