Objective: the purpose of present research work was to develop silver sulfadiazine (ssd) loaded cross-linked hydrogel for severe burns wound and to perform the in vivo animal study in wistar rats and comparing its burns healing ability with marketed preparation methods: the hydrogels were prepared by freeze-thawed physical cross-linking method containing poly vinylalcohol (pva) and chitosan. the effects of different concentration of pva and chitosan on hydrogel characteristics and drug release study were optimized by 32 factorial design. in which concentration of pva and chitosan upto 3 levels had been chosen as independent variables and % cdr and water vapour transmission rate (wvtr) had been chosen as dependant variables. the hydrogels were characterized by differential scanning calorimetry, infrared spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy. the cross-linked hydrogel were evaluated in terms of gel fraction, wvtr, evaporative water loss, swelling study, porosity measurement, mechanical properties measurements and in vitro release study and mechanism of drug release from hydrogel. optimized formulation from 32 factorial design was used for in vivo burns healing study in rats and compared with marketed formulation. optimized formulations were kept at 40°c and 75% relative humidity (rh) for accelerated stability study for one month. results: the results indicated that the different conc. of pva and chitosan had significant effects on the hydrogel characteristics and drug release study. from the 32 factorial design, it was concluded that pva 7.1% and chitosan 1% concentration had around 2601 gm/m2 per day wvtr, good controlled 80-85% drug release for 12 hour, also good mechanical strength of around 2.2-2.6 kgf tensile strength and well characterized porosity of around 43%, gel fraction was around 75% which were essential for good cross-linked hydrogel. evaporative loss from hydrogel was found very low which can retain moisture about 8 days in complete dry condition. the drug release mechanism from hydrogel was found to be non fickian diffusion through the extramicellar aqueous channels of the cross-linked gel matrix. the in vivo burns healing study in rats revealed that the prepared optimized hydrogel had superior burns healing rate around 30-40% higher than the marketed preparation. the test product caused complete healing in 10 days. the accelerated stability study data showed that the formulation remained unchanged after one month accelerated stability study. conclusions: the 1% ssd loaded hydrogel containing 7.1% pva and 1% chitosan prepared by feeze-thawed cross-linking method found to have increased gel strength, higher water vapour transmission rate and fluid uptake capacity suitable for faster healing of burns. this hydrogel also sustained the release of ssd upto 12 hour which is required for longer period of antimicrobial activity and found better in vivo burn healing capacity as compared to marketed preparation. thus the developed hydrogel is a potential burns dressing with better elasticity, flexibility, stability and excellent burns healing capacity.