To assess the potential of arabinoxylan (AX)-rich psyllium (Plantago ovato Forsk) seed husk (PSH) as a source for production of arabinoxylo-oligosaccharides (AXOS), the parameters determining PSH AX extraction yield and the chemical and enzymic hydrolysis of PSH AX were investigated. The seed husk material had a high content of AX (62.5%) with an arabinose to xylose ratio of 0.41. The water extractability of PSH AX was affected by suspension concentration rather than by temperature. Maximally, 27% of all AX could be extracted, even when using very dilute suspensions (0.1% w/v). When subjected to alkaline conditions, a pH of at least 12 was needed to significantly increase extractability (up to 77% of all AX). The extractability-increasing effect of alkali was, however, reversible, as extractability decreased again when lowering the pH. Acid hydrolysis at high temperature drastically increased AX extraction yields (up to 97% of all AX), released monomeric arabinose (up to 38%), and lowered the average degree of polymerisation (DPavg) of the AX (down to 31). The presence of substituents (arabinose, xylose, rhamnose and galacturonic acid) on the xylan backbone was an important factor limiting degradation by xylanases. Enzyme preparations containing substituent-removing enzymes were far better for enhancing the extractability of a large portion of the AX population (up to 82%) and for degrading the extracted fragments (down to DPavg 14) than preparations lacking such activities. The above results show that PSH is a good source for the production of AXOS, since both chemical and enzymic treatments significantly increase the extractability of PSH AX and convert PSH AX molecules into small fragments. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.