AbstractFibrillation of chemical and mechanical pulps with different lignin contents was studied. The pulps were ion exchanged into their sodium form prior to fibrillation and fibrillated with an increasing level of energy using high-shear friction grinding. The fibrillated samples were characterized for their chemical composition, morphology, rheological properties, and water retention capacity. All pulps had a distinct tendency to form fibrillated material under high shear and compression. The lignin-containing kraft pulps fibrillated easily, and the resulting material can be utilized in applications where high viscosity, water retention capacity, and reinforcement are desired. Fibrillation of mechanical pulps resulted in more heterogeneous samples, which included fiber fragments, branched fibrillar structures, and flake-like particles. This material showed relatively low viscosity and water retention capacity when compared to the samples made from kraft pulps. Chemi-thermomechanical pulp (CTMP), when used as the raw material, yielded a more homogeneous organic filler-like material than did thermomechanical pulp (TMP).