Using a mica surface force balance, we have measured the interactions between mica surfaces bearing chitosan (a common, naturally occurring, cationic polysaccharide; the average molecular weight of our sample was 6 × 105, degree of deacetylation 85%) adsorbed from acetic acid solution. We also introduced a polyionic cross-linking agent in order to cause gelation of the adsorbed layer. Both normal and shear interactions (the lateral forces acting between the surfaces as they slide past each other under compression) were measured in the two cases (freely adsorbed and cross-linked chitosan layers). Normal interactions between the adsorbed non-cross-linked chitosan layers were similar to previous reports of interactions between such layers; their shear interactions revealed a very low effective friction coefficient μeff = ca. 0.003 at low compressions, increasing to ca. 0.07 at pressures of some atmospheres. We attribute the low friction to the weak interpenetration between the layers arising from steric effects and counterion osmotic pressures, together with the presence of hydration sheaths about the charged polyelectrolyte segments, which are known to provide efficient local lubrication. The higher friction on strong compressions is attributed to bridging effects. For the case of the cross-linked layer, normal interactions revealed longer ranged and more repulsive forces, due probably to the network formation resulting in a higher effective modulus of the layers. Frictional forces between the rubbing cross-linked layer were much higher than for the non-cross-linked chitosan, an effect we attribute to increased segmental friction arising from attractive interactions between the cross-linking points; this is also consistent with our observation that for the cross-linked layers significant hysteresis was observed when measuring normal interactions on approach and separation of the layers, an effect that was absent for the case of the non-cross-linked adsorbed layers. Refractive index measurements revealed an adsorbance of 1.2 ± 0.4 mg/m2 of the polymer on each mica surface, consistent with expectations for cationic polymers adsorbed on solid surfaces.