BACKGROUND Rye and wheat bran were treated with several xylanases and endoglucanases, and the effects on physicochemical properties such as solubility, viscosity, water-holding capacity and particle size as well as the chemical composition of the soluble and insoluble fractions of the bran were studied. A large number of enzymes with well-defined activities were used. This enabled a comparison between enzymes of different origins and with different activities as well as a comparison between the effects of the enzymes on rye and wheat bran. RESULTS The xylanases derived from Bacillus subtilis were the most effective in solubilising dietary fibre from wheat and rye bran. There was a tendency for a higher degree of degradation of the soluble or solubilised dietary fibre in rye bran than in wheat bran when treated with most of the enzymes. CONCLUSION None of the enzymes increased the water-holding capacity of the bran or the viscosity of the aqueous phase. The content of insoluble material decreased as the dietary fibre was solubilised by the enzymes. The amount of material that may form a network to retain water in the system was thereby decreased.