The oral administration of peptide drugs is well known to be precluded by their digestion in the stomach and small intestine. As a new approach to oral delivery, peptide drugs were coated with polymers cross-linked with azoaromatic groups to form an impervious film to protect orally administered drugs from digestion in the stomach and small intestine. When the azopolymer-coated drug reached the large intestine, the indigenous microflora reduced the azo bonds, broke the cross-links, and degraded the polymer film, thereby releasing the drug into the lumen of the colon for local action or for absorption. The ability of the azopolymer coating to protect and deliver orally administered peptide drugs was demonstrated in rats with the peptide hormones vasopressin and insulin.