Poor water solubility of drugs can complicate their commercialisation because of reduced drug oral bioavailability. Formulation strategies such as increasing the drug surface area are frequently employed in an attempt to increase dissolution rate and hence, improve oral bioavailability. Maximising the drug surface area exposed to the dissolution medium can be achieved by loading drug onto a high surface area carrier like mesoporous silica (SBA-15). The aim of this work was to investigate the impact of altering supercritical carbon dioxide (SC-CO2) processing conditions, in an attempt to enhance drug loading onto SBA-15 and increase the drug's dissolution rate. Other formulation variables such as the mass ratio of drug to SBA-15 and the procedure for combining the drug and SBA-15 were also investigated. A model drug with poor water solubility, fenofibrate, was selected for this study. High drug loading efficiencies were obtained using SC-CO2, which were influenced by the processing conditions employed. Fenofibrate release rate was enhanced greatly after loading onto mesoporous silica. The results highlighted the potential of this SC-CO2 drug loading approach to improve the oral bioavailability of poorly water soluble drugs. (C) 2012 Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved.