In this study, the prebiotic potential of arabinoxylan oligosaccharides (AXOS) was compared with inulin in two simulators of the human intestinal microbial ecosystem. Microbial breakdown of both oligosaccharides and short-chain fatty acid production was colon compartment specific, with ascending and transverse colon being the predominant site of inulin and AXOS degradation, respectively. Lactate levels (+5.5 mM) increased in the ascending colon during AXOS supplementation, while propionate levels (+5.1 mM) increased in the transverse colon. The concomitant decrease in lactate in the transverse colon suggests that propionate was partially formed over the acrylate pathway. Furthermore, AXOS supplementation strongly decreased butyrate in the ascending colon, this in parallel with a decrease in Roseburia spp. and Bacteroides/Prevotella/Porphyromonas (-1.4 and -2.0 log CFU) levels. Inulin treatment had moderate effects on lactate, propionate and butyrate levels. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis revealed that inulin changed microbial metabolism by modulating the microbial community composition. In contrast, AXOS primarily affected microbial metabolism by 'switching on' AXOS-degrading enzymes (xylanase, arabinofuranosidase and xylosidase), without significantly affecting microbial community composition. Our results demonstrate that AXOS has a higher potency than inulin to shift part of the sugar fermentation toward the distal colon parts. Furthermore, due to its stronger propionate-stimulating effect, AXOS is a candidate prebiotic capable of lowering cholesterol and beneficially affecting fat metabolism of the host.