Doxorubicin, together with the modified polysaccharide (alginate dialdehyde), was used as a wall material to fabricate microcapsules through self-cross-linking by a template method. The microcapsules as-prepared are pH-responsive. Relevant scanning electronic microscopy, atom force microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy confirm the morphology of the uniform microcapsules. The spectroscopic results show that the microcapsules are assembled through electrostatic interaction and Schiff's base covalent bonding. Doxorubicin can be released sustainably from the capsules in buffer solution at a lower pH value. The cellular uptake of the microcapsules and drug release induced by acidic microenvironment are time-dependent processes. The cell cytotoxicity experiments in vitro demonstrate that the doxorubicin-based microcapsules have high efficiency to kill the cancer cells.