Leaves of Leucaena leucocephala, Sesbania sesban and Calliandra callothyrsus were harvested in Rwanda from young shoots at 8 weeks after the first cutting. They were dried, ground and incubated at the same time in polyester bags in three non-lactating Holstein-Friesian cows each fitted with a ruminal cannula. The bags were removed at 0, 2, 4, 8, 24, 48, 72 and 144 h after the start of incubations. The different parameters characterizing extent and rate of ruminal degradation of organic matter (OM), neutral-detergent fibre (NDF), and crude protein (CP) were calculated. In vitro digestibility of residual protein after 24 h and 48 h incubation was also determined. Sesbania sesban had lowest cell wall contents and gave highest ruminal degradability for OM, NDF and CP. Leucaena leucocephala was degraded to a lesser extent, but its undegraded protein had a somewhat higher in vitro digestibility. In contrast, protein of Calliandra callothyrsus was poorly degraded and digested. The proportion and composition of cell wall could not explain these differences in digestion characteristics and other measurements, such as tannins, were incriminated. Increased ruminal incubation time augmented the extent of ruminal degradation and reduced in vitro digestibility of undegraded protein but did not affect the undigestible protein fraction.