AbstractThe structure of wood is so compact that enzymes are too large to penetrate into the structure and thereby attack the wood components for modifications that can be valuable for various purposes. Here we present a pretreatment method based on traditional kraft pulping, which opens the wood structure, so that enzymes are able to attack the wood components. To study this kind of chemical pretreatment, spruce wood samples were treated at similar conditions used in kraft cooking at varying intensities (H-factors). To verify if the structure was “opened” for enzymes, the pretreated wood samples were incubated with a cellulolytic culture filtrate, and the released reducing sugar concentration after the enzymatic hydrolysis was measured. The results indicated that un-pretreated wood fibers could not be attacked by the enzymes, but already relatively mild pretreatment was sufficient for letting the culture filtrate attack wood polysaccharides, and more intensive treatments opened the structure further. The mildest treatments did not cause any significant yield losses of lignin (Klason lignin). Some galactogluco-mannans were however lost during the pretreatments. The mechanisms behind the effect and the technical significance of the method are discussed.