The potential of okra extract was evaluated for uses in pharmaceutical and food applications. Okra polysaccharides were extracted and dried using different drying procedures (oven drying and freeze-drying). The extracts were examined by means of measurement of swelling and dissolution behaviour of okra extract-based hydrophilic matrices for controlled drug release and emulsification capacity of n-hexadecane. Drying technique and solubility of drugs used were shown to have a significant impact on the swelling and dissolution of the hydrophilic matrix tablets prepared. It was shown that the oven-dried extracts increased swelling of the matrices by approximately 20% compared with freeze dried extracts, resulting in slower drug release. The relative drug solubility also contributed to the extent of swelling and drug release with poorly soluble flurbiprofen reducing the swelling and the release rate when compared with freely soluble theophylline. The emulsification capacity of the okra extracts was also investigated and they were found to emulsify n-hexadecane at pH 3.0. The emulsions produced had an average droplet size of ~6μm rising to ~23μm after 5 days then remaining relatively constant following 30 days of storage. These results highlight the potential of okra polysaccharide as an alternative sources to fabricate hydrophilic matrix tablets or as stabilisers of emulsions that can be used to deliver drugs or nutrients. © 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.