After accurate determination of the content of available carbohydrate in a wide variety of cereals, as in vitro method was used to study factors that influence hydrolysis rates of starch in foods. Fiber, physical form, cooking, and the possible presence of a natural amylase inhibitor were all shown to affect hydrolysis rates of starch. Fiber only exerted an inhibiting effect on the rate of hydrolysis when it formed a physical barrier to limit access of the hydrolytic enzymes to the starch (as in whole brown rice, for example). Particle size played an important role in determining the rate of hydrolysis. Cooking made the starch much more readily available for enzymic hydrolysis presumably by gelatinizing it. Stoneground wholemeal flour was hydrolyzed more slowly than white flour. This is consistent with the presence of a natural amylase inhibitor that has been isolated from wheat germ in the whole grain. Our results suggest that such amylase inhibitor activity is destroyed by passage through the roller mill, since the starch in wheat germ and standard wholemeal flour (i.e., not stoneground but reconstituted after passage through the roller mill) was hydrolyzed at a rate identical to white flour.