AbstractTwo industrial elemental chlorine free (ECF) bleaching sequences, D0(EOP)D1(EP)D2 and OQ(PO)DP, are compared with respect to the bulk content of lignin, carboxyl, hexeneuronic acids (HexA), and reducing groups after each bleaching stage. HexA groups contribute significantly to the total content of carboxyl groups, and their degradation during chlorine dioxide bleaching is reflected by a decrease of the carboxyl content. The higher degradation using an enhanced use of oxygen-based bleaching chemicals is associated with a higher fiber charge reduction, mainly due to xylan depletion. Additionally, the effect of process variables of a laboratory final hydrogen peroxide stage on the chemical composition of the fully bleached pulp (D0(EOP)D1P and OQ(PO)DP) is studied. The ability of final peroxide bleaching to raise the content of carboxyl groups is dependent on the operating conditions and pulp bleaching history. A balance between carbohydrate oxidation and dissolution of oxidized groups determines the effect on fiber charge. The effect of hydrogen peroxide stabilizers added into the final stage on the content of carboxyl groups is also reported.