It is well documented in the literature that during the dissolution of whey protein gels in alkali, the gels swell to a great extent. However, the relevance of the swelling step in the dissolution process of the protein gel remains unknown. In the present article we present a systematic study on the swelling of β-lactoglobulin gels at different alkaline pH and ionic strengths. The equilibrium swelling degree at different conditions has been modeled using a simple model developed for polyelectrolyte gels, modified to take into account the ionization of the residues in a protein. The model can describe the swelling behavior of the gels over a wide range of conditions, but it underpredicts the equilibrium swelling under conditions close to those when dissolution is observed. Dissolution is only noticeable above pH 11.5-12 and only for those gels that are swollen over a minimum degree, suggesting the existence of a dissolution threshold.