This study characterised the in vitro ileal fermentability of different substrates in the growing pig, adopted as an animal model for the adult human, and compared in vitro ileal and caecal fermentation in the pig. Substrates (arabinogalactan (AG), cellulose, fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS), inulin, mucin, citrus pectin and resistant starch) were fermented in vitro (ileal 2 h and caecal 24 h) with an ileal or caecal inoculum prepared from ileal or caecal digesta collected from growing pigs (n 5) fed a human-type diet for 15 d. The organic matter (OM) fermentability and production of organic acids were determined. In general, there was considerable in vitro ileal fermentation of fibre, and the substrates differed (P < 0·001) for both in vitro ileal and caecal OM fermentability and for organic acid production. Pectin had the greatest in vitro ileal OM fermentability (26 %) followed by AG, FOS and resistant starch (15 % on average), and cellulose, inulin and mucin (3 % on average). The fermentation of FOS, inulin and mucin was greater for in vitro caecal fermentation compared with the ileal counterpart (P ≤ 0·05). In general, the organic acid production was higher for in vitro caecal fermentation (P ≤ 0·05). For instance, the in vitro ileal acetic acid production represented 4–46 % of in vitro caecal production. Energy from fibre fermentation of 0·6–11 kJ/g substrate fermented could be expected in the ileum of the pig. In conclusion, substrates are fermented in both the ileum and caecum. The degree of fermentation varies among substrates, especially for in vitro ileal fermentation.