The in vitro degradation of dietary fibre from three brown seaweeds (Himanthalia elongata, Laminaria digitata and Undaria pinnatiJda) was studied, using human faecal flora. Two sets of fibre were tested: (1) total algal fibres extracted from the whole algae, mainly composed of alginates, and (2) purified fibres (sulphated fucans, Na-alginates and laminarans) representative of those contained in the whole brown algae. Mannuronate, one algal component, was also investigated. Substrate disappearance and short- chain fatty acid (SCFA) production were monitored after 6, 12 and 24 h fermentation. Gas production was followed hourly during the first 9 h and then at 12 and 24 h. Sugarbeet fibre was used as a fermentation reference substrate. According to the fermentative indices used, most of each of the total algal fibres disappeared after 24 h (range 60–76 %) hut, unlike the reference substrate, they were not completely metabolized to SCFA (range 47–62 %). Among the purified algal fibres, disappearance of laminarans was approximately 90% and metabolism to SCFA was approximately 85% in close agreement with the fermentation pattern of reference fibres. Sulphated fucans were not degraded. Na- alginates exhibited a fermentation pattern quite similar to those of the whole algal fibres with a more pronounced discrepancy between disappearance and production of SCFA: disappearance was approximately 83 % but metabolism was only approximately 57 YO. Mannuronate was slowly fermented hut its metabolism corresponded to its disappearance from the fermentative medium. Thus, the characteristic fermentation pattern of the total fibres from the three brown algae investigated was attributed to the peculiar fermentation of alginates, and mannuronate was shown not to be directly involved.