Metformin is an oral hypoglycemic agent used in the type 2 diabetes, whose poor bioavailability and short half-life make the development of effective extended-release formulations highly desirable. Different metformin-loaded chitosomal and niosomal formulations were developed and suitably characterized, but were unable to provide the desired sustained release. The entrapment of both kinds of colloidal dispersions in calcium alginate beads enabled to strongly reduce the amount of drug released at gastric level (from 18 up to a maximum of 30%), and to obtain a sustained release in simulated intestinal fluid, which was properly tuned by varying the percentage of calcium alginate in the beads. In vivo studies on rats revealed a significant improvement of metformin hypoglycemic effect when orally administered as chitosomal and even more as niosomal dispersion entrapped in alginate beads, not only with respect to the drug as such, but also to the alginate beads loaded with the plain drug. The more intense and sustained therapeutic effect with time provided by the drug-in niosomes-in alginate bead formulation could be very profitable for maintaining tight blood glucose levels over prolonged period of time after oral administration, allowing a reduction of its dose and related collateral effects, and improving patient compliance.