Unique microneedle arrays prepared from crosslinked polymers, which contain no drug themselves, are described. They rapidly take up skin interstitial fluid upon skin insertion to form continuous, unblockable, hydrogel conduits from attached patch-type drug reservoirs to the dermal microcirculation. Importantly, such microneedles, which can be fabricated in a wide range of patch sizes and microneedle geometries, can be easily sterilized, resist hole closure while in place, and are removed completely intact from the skin. Delivery of macromolecules is no longer limited to what can be loaded into the microneedles themselves and transdermal drug delivery is now controlled by the crosslink density of the hydrogel system rather than the stratum corneum, while electrically modulated delivery is also a unique feature. This technology has the potential to overcome the limitations of conventional microneedle designs and greatly increase the range of the type of drug that is deliverable transdermally, with ensuing benefits for industry, healthcare providers and, ultimately, patients.