The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of the thiolation on the mucoadhesion characteristics of the gelatinized and crosslinked wheat starch-graft-poly(acrylic acid) [(WS-g-PAA)(gc)] for potential use in drug delivery via vaginal route. Thiolation of (WS-g-PAA)(gc) was first time realized using L-cysteine hydrochloride monohydrate (CyS) and thioglycolic acid (TGA). These conjugates [(WS-g-PAA)(gcth)] were characterized using FTIR. The free SH group, mucoadhesion, cytotoxicity characteristics and the mechanism of the thiolation were also evaluated. To obtain fundamental data for possible application such as drug carrier, in vitro and in vivo progesterone release profiles from the mucoadhesive tablet formulations were also determined. The results showed that, vaginal tablet containing (WS-g-PAA)(gc)-TGA, which has not contain free SH groups in its structure, displays higher mucoadhesion than (WS-g-PAA)(gc) and (WS-g-PAA)(gc)-CyS. This tablet formulation can also be used as a drug carrier in vaginal applications. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.