Untreated wheat straw (UWS) or ammoniated wheat straw without (AWS) or with (AWSP) a supplement of potato protein of a low rumen degradability was fed to three steers according to a 3 × 3 Latin square design. All rations were supplemented with sugar-beet pulp and minerals. Voluntary organic matter intake (OMI, g/kg0.75 per d) was 67.8, 76.0 and 80.1 for whole rations (51.1, 59.7 and 59.2 for straw) for UWS, AWS and AWSP respectively, which was significantly higher for AWS and AWSP than for UWS. Organic matter digestibility (OMD, g/kg) was 561, 596 and 625 for the respective rations UWS, AWS and AWSP, also significantly higher for AWS and AWSP than for UWS. The increased voluntary intake and digestion of ammoniated wheat-straw-based rations were associated with a significantly higher potentially degradable fraction (D) of neutral detergent fibre (NDF) in offered straw (556 and 661 g/kg for untreated and ammoniated wheat straw respectively) and in the rumen pool (469, 555 and 554 g/kg for UWS, AWS and AWSP respectively). Isolated small rumen particles (retained on sieves with a pore size < 1.25 and > 0.041 mm) had a significantly lower D of NDF (average 588 g/kg) than isolated large rumen particles (average 663 g/kg). Fractional rates of degradation of NDF did not differ significantly either between untreated and ammonia-treated wheat straw offered (2.9 and 2.6%/h respectively) or between rumen pools (1.8, 1.7 and 2.1 %/h for UWS, AWS and AWSP respectively). Rations based on ammoniated wheat straw had a significantly higher rumen NH3-N concentration than UWS. Although the rumen pool size of total contents differed significantly between treatments, those of dry and organic matter and of cell wall constituents were not significantly different. The proportion of rumen dry matter passing through a sieve with a pore size of 1.25 mm averaged 0.684 over rations (not significantly different between rations). Daily rumination (96 min) and eating (52 min) times/kg NDF ingested did not differ between rations. The rate of comminution of large particles estimated from the disappearance of indigestible NDF in large rumen particles from the rumen of animals without access to feed was 4.1, 6.3 and 7.1 %/h for UWS, AWS and AWSP respectively. These values were not significantly different. The fractional rate of passage estimated from the faecal excretion of Cr-NDF was 5.4, 6.1 and 6.3%/h for UWS, AWS and AWSP respectively (significantly higher for AWS and AWSP than for UWS) but the turnover rate of indigestible NDF did not differ between treatments.