Magnesium stearate (Mg-St) is a common lubricant used for solid pharmaceutical formulations and is known for its property to cause delay of tablet dissolution. In this study, the mechanism underlying the delay caused by Mg-St was investigated with model metformin hydrochloride (HCl) tablets containing Mg-St by using the stationary disk method, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The results revealed the process and mechanism of delay: the exposed amount of Mg-St on the tablet surface increases during the dissolution process, and tablet dissolution is limited by the diffusion of Mg-St. In addition, in the case of dissolution in acidic medium, stearic acid derived from Mg-St was detected on the tablet surface by FTIR. Because the solubility of stearic acid is lower than that of Mg-St, the slower dissolution in acidic medium than in neutral medium may be attributed to the generation of stearic acid.