AbstractThis paper reports high level production of a cellulase-free xylanase using wheat bran, a cost-effective substrate, under submerged fermentation by alkalophilic Bacillus subtilis ASH. Production of xylanase was observed even at alkaline pH up to 11.0 and temperature 60 °C, although the highest enzyme titer was recorded at neutral pH and 37 °C. The enzyme production under optimized fermentation was 1.5-fold greater than under unoptimized conditions. Pre-treatment of unbleached pulp of 10% consistency with crude xylanase (6 IU/g o.d. pulp) at 60 ºC for 2 h increased the final brightness by 4.9%. The enzyme treatment reduced the chlorine consumption by 28.6% with the same brightness as in the control. A reduction in kappa number and increase in viscosity was observed after enzyme pre-treatment. Scanning electron microscopy revealed loosening and swelling of pulp fibers. The strength properties viz. grammage, fiber thickness, beating degree, tensile index, breaking length, tear index and double fold of the treated pulp were improved as compared to the control pulp. This study reveals the potentialof B. subtilis ASH xylanase as a biobleaching agent for the paper and pulp industry.