The effects of a high level of dietary fibre (DF) either as arabinoxylan (AX) or resistant starch (RS) on digestion processes, SCFA concentration and pool size in various intestinal segments and on the microbial composition in the faeces were studied in a model experiment with pigs. A total of thirty female pigs (body weight 63·1 (sem 4·4) kg) were fed a low-DF, high-fat Western-style control diet (WSD), an AX-rich diet (AXD) or a RS-rich diet (RSD) for 3 weeks. Diet significantly affected the digestibility of DM, protein, fat, NSP and NSP components, and the arabinose:xylose ratio, as well as the disappearance of NSP and AX in the large intestine. RS was mainly digested in the caecum. AX was digested at a slower rate than RS. The digesta from AXD-fed pigs passed from the ileum to the distal colon more than twice as fast as those from WSD-fed pigs, with those from RSD-fed pigs being intermediate (P< 0·001). AXD feeding resulted in a higher number of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Roseburia intestinalis, Blautia coccoides–Eubacterium rectale, Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp. in the faeces sampled at week 3 of the experimental period (P< 0·05). In the caecum, proximal and mid colon, AXD feeding resulted in a 3- to 5-fold higher pool size of butyrate compared with WSD feeding, with the RSD being intermediate (P <0·001). In conclusion, the RSD and AXD differently affected digestion processes compared with the WSD, and the AXD most efficiently shifted the microbial composition towards butyrogenic species in the faeces and increased the large-intestinal butyrate pool size.