The hydrolysis of fibre-bound and isolated xylans from both birch and pine wood and kraft pulps was studied using purified xylanolytic enzymes of Trichoderma reesei. Despite high enzyme loading, the degree of hydrolysis of fibre-bound substrates did not exceed 20% of the theoretical value, apparently due to limited accessibility of the substrates. The fibre-bound xylans were as equally accessible in softwood as in hardwood pulps. The isolated xylans of wood and kraft pulps could be solubilized more extensively, with a hydrolysis yield of 50–65%. The substitution degree of the isolated xylan substrates was reflected in the different hydrolysis yields obtained by the two xylanases, with isoelectric point (pI) values of 9.0 and 5.5. On the more substituted substrates, i.e. pine kraft xylan and pine wood xylan, the two enzymes acted almost similarly, whereas on the less substituted xylan substrates, such as isolated birch kraft xylan, the pI-9.0 enzyme was more efficient. The side-group-cleaving enzymes increased only moderately the solubilization of the substrates.