To improve the dissolution and oral absorption of Rhizoma corydalis decumbentis extracts (RCDE), a famous traditional Chinese herbal medicine which contains poorly water-soluble active components, self-emulsifying drug-delivery systems (SEDDS) were designed and evaluated in vitro and in vivo for the first time. Six formulations were prepared, and pseudoternary phase diagrams were constructed to identify the efficient self-emulsication region through the modified visual test. The optimized formulation consisted of 45% Solutol, 40% ethyl oleate, and 15% Transcutol P. The mean droplet size distribution of the optimized SEDDS was less than 100 nm. The release of the active components (protopine and tetrahydropalmatine) in RCDE from SEDDS hard gelatin capsules showed a faster rate in comparison with the commercial tablets. After oral administration of RCDE SEDDS capsules or the commercial tablets to fasted rats, the relative bioavailability of SEDDS capsules for protopine and tetrahydropalmatine was 209.7% and 133.2% compared with commercial tablets, respectively. Our study indicated that SEDDS has the potential to improve the bioavailability of traditional Chinese medicines, in which many active components are hydrophobic, such as RCDE.