The purpose of the present study was to prepare amphiphilic hyaluronic acid (HA) derivatives and to study the influence of a selection of reaction parameters on the degree of substitution (DS) of the derivatives. Octenyl succinic anhydride (OSA)–modified HA (OSA–HA) derivatives were prepared and structurally characterised by Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy and proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR). The influence of four reaction parameters on the DS of the derivatives was studied by means of an experimental design. The results showed that the OSA/HA molar ratio, the buffer (NaHCO3) concentration and their interaction had the largest influence while the HA concentration and the reaction time only had a negligible effect. According to 1H NMR the maximum DS achieved within the experimental conditions tested was 43% per disaccharide unit. Moreover optimal reaction conditions were identified for the preparation of versatile OSA–HA derivatives with a DS between 1.5% and 43%.