The therapeutic value of specific fibres is partly dependent on their fermentation characteristics. Some fibres are rapidly degraded with the generation of gases that induce symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), while more slowly or non-fermentable fibres may be more suitable. More work is needed to profile a comprehensive range of fibres to determine suitability for IBS. Using a rapid in vitro fermentation model, gas production and metabolite profiles of a range of established and novel fibres were compared. Fibre substrates (n 15) were added to faecal slurries from three healthy donors for 4 h with gas production measured using real-time headspace sampling. Concentrations of SCFA and ammonia were analysed using GC and enzymatic assay, respectively. Gas production followed three patterns: rapid (≥60 ml/g over 4 h) for fructans, carrot fibre and maize-derived xylo-oligosaccharide (XOS); mild (30–60 ml/g) for partially hydrolysed guar gum, almond shell-derived XOS and one type of high-amylose resistant starch 2 (RS2) and minimal (no differences with blank controls) for methylcellulose, another high-amylose RS2, acetylated or butyrylated RS2, RS4, acacia gum and sugarcane bagasse. Gas production correlated positively with total SCFA (r 0·80, P < 0·001) and negatively with ammonia concentrations (r –0·68, P < 0·001). Proportions of specific SCFA varied: fermentation of carrot fibre, XOS and acetylated RS2 favoured acetate, while fructans favoured butyrate. Gas production and metabolite profiles differed between fibre types and within fibre classes over a physiologically relevant 4-h time course. Several fibres resisted rapid fermentation and may be candidates for clinical trials in IBS patients.