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One step aqueous melt-crystallization and in situ granulation was utilized to produce ibuprofen-cationic dextran [diethylaminoethyl dextran (Ddex)] conjugate crystanules without the use of surfactants or organic solvents. This study investigates the mechanism of in situ granulation-induced crystanule formation using ibuprofen (Ibu) and Ddex. Laboratory scale batch aqueous crystallization system containing in situ monitoring probes for particle vision measurement (PVM), UV–vis measurement and focused beam reflectance measurements (FBRM) was adapted using pre-defined formulation and process parameters. Pure ibuprofen showed nucleation domain between 25 and 64 °C, producing minicrystals with onset of melting at 76 °C and enthalpy of fusion (ΔH) of 26.22 kJ/mol. On the other hand Ibu-Ddex crystanules showed heterogeneous nucleation which produced spherical core-shell structure. PVM images suggest that internalization of ibuprofen in Ddex corona occurred during the melting phase (before nucleation) which inhibited crystal growth inside the Ddex corona. The remarkable decrease in ΔH of the crystanules from 26.22 to 11.96 kJ/mol and the presence of broad overlapping DSC thermogram suggests formation of ibuprofen-Ddex complex and crystalline-amorphous transformation. However Raman and FTIR spectra did not show any significant chemical interaction between ibuprofen and Ddex. A significant increase in dissolution efficiency from 45 to 81% within 24 h and reduced burst release provide evidence for potential application of crystanules in controlled drug delivery systems. It was evident that in situ granulation of ibuprofen inhibited the aqueous crystallization process. It was concluded that in situ granulation-aqueous crystallization technique is a novel unit operation with potential application in continuous pharmaceutical processing.