Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are multifunctional cytokines that were originally identified as molecules that induce bone and cartilage formation in vivo. In order to increase the efficacy of this potent protein for application in medicine, a carrier system is needed to retain the BMP at the preferred site. Here we present and characterize a slow-release carrier system for pure human recombinant (rh)BMP. The large porous microspheres, called 'foamspheres', are biodegradable, because they consist of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) acids and release loaded rhBMP slowly and continuously. In vivo studies in rodents revealed that rhBMP-loaded foamspheres increased the thickness of the calvarial bone of rats by 222%. When the same amount of rhBMP was applied via a gelatine-based hydrogel, the increase in bone height was only 66%. Thus, the carrier system for rhBMP is an important factor for the efficacy of BMPs.