Administration of biomacromolecular drugs in effective quantities from conventional vaginal rings is hampered by poor drug permeability in the polymers from which rings are commonly constructed. Here, we report the formulation development and testing of rod insert rings for sustained release of the candidate antiretroviral peptides T-1249 and JNJ54310516-AFP (JNJ peptide), both of which have potential as HIV microbicides. Rod inserts were prepared comprising antiviral peptides T-1249 or JNJ peptide in combination with a hydrophilic excipient (sodium chloride, sodium glutamate, lactose or zinc acetate) dispersed at different loadings within a medical grade silicone elastomer. The inserts were tested for weight change and swelling when immersed in simulated vaginal fluid (SVF). Dye migration into the inserts was also assessed visually over 28 days. In vitro release of T-1249 and JNJ peptide from rings containing various insert types was tested. Weight change and degree of swelling of rods immersed in SVF was dependent on the type and concentration of excipient present. The rods displayed the following rank order in terms of weight change: sodium glutamate > zinc acetate ≈ sodium chloride > lactose. The weight change and degree of swelling of the inserts did not correlate with the level of dye uptake observed. In vitro release of T-1249 was improved through addition of lactose, sodium chloride and sodium glutamate, while release of JNJ peptide was improved through addition of sodium chloride or sodium glutamate. Sustained release of hydrophobic peptides can be achieved using a rod insert ring design formulated to include a hydrophilic excipient. Release rates were dependent upon the type of excipient used. The degree of release improvement with different inserts partially reflects their ability to imbibe surrounding fluid and swell in aqueous environments.