Decomposition of dietary fibers in the stomach and small bowel was studied in 13 healthy male volunteers. Liquid control meals were compared with test meals, which in addition contained a source of fiber (wheat bran or ispaghula husk) in random order. Aspirations were collected from the stomach, the proximal jejunum, the mid gut and the terminal ileum. Radiolabeled polyethylene glycol-4000 was used as nonabsorbable water-phase marker, and the formation of free arabinose was used to quantify the hydrolysis of dietary fibers. Ingested fibers, aspirates and urine specimens were analyzed for monosaccharides, either free or fiber-bound, by gas-liquid chromatography. Both types of fiber were hydrolyzed in the stomach, but not in the small bowel. Of ispaghula husk, 1-6% was hydrolyzed, as was 5-8% of wheat bran. Intestinal absorption of free arabinose was 85-93%, but excretion of arabinose in the urine was not greater than after control meals. For further evaluation of gastric hydrolysis six additional healthy male volunteers were studied by serial aspirations from the antral part of the stomach. Hydrolysis was instantaneous for both fibers, and was significantly more pronounced for wheat bran than for ispaghula husk.