AbstractSteam explosion has been proposed for a wide range of lignocellulosic applications, including fractionation of biomass, pre-treatment of biomass for ethanol production, or as an alternative to conventional mechanical pulping. Nevertheless, a steam explosion process could also be used as pretreatment before chemical pulping, expecting a reduction in cooking time due to the open structure of the exploded chips. Thus, to evaluate the effect of steam explosion as a pretreatment in the kraft pulping of Eucalyptus globulus, steam exploded chips and control chips were subjected to kraft cookings. Steam exploded chips provided pulps with reductions of kappa number by up to 70% with no significant change in viscosity. Therefore, the cooking time could be shortened by 60%, increasing the productivity and obtaining pulps with similar delignification degree to those of the control pulp. Furthermore, not only the production rate could be increased, but also most of the hemicelluloses could be recovered before pulping and converted to a value-added product. Finally, although exploded pulp had inferior mechanical strength, the optical properties, which are more important in eucalyptus pulps, were found to be better.