Arabinoxylan is a major dietary fiber component of many cereals. Its physiological effects in the colon are largely unknown. This study examined the effects of an arabinoxylan-rich fiber (AX) extracted from a by-product of wheat flour processing in the rat colon compared with well-characterized soluble/rapidly fermentable and insoluble/slowly fermentable fibers. Rats were fed diets containing no fiber (NF) or 100 g/kg of total dietary fiber from AX, guar gum (GG) or wheat bran (WB) for 4 wk. Cecal mass and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) pool were significantly higher while pH was significantly lower in the fiber-supplemented groups, particularly in the AX and GG groups. The pattern of SCFA production in the cecum was altered; AX fiber was a good source for acetate while GG and WB favored propionate and butyrate production, respectively. Fecal output was 7-, 6- and 5-fold higher, respectively, in the AX, GG and WB than in the NF groups (P < 0.01). All epithelial proliferation indices (crypt column height, number of mitotic cells/crypt column and mitotic index) differed significantly across the groups in a descending order of AX > GG > WB > NF. Distal mucosal dipeptidyl peptidase IV activities, which indicate cell differentiation status, were significantly lower in fiber-supplemented groups than in the NF groups. Distal mucosal alkaline phosphatase activities, induced as a response to injury or stress, were significantly higher for the AX and GG groups than for the NF or WB groups (P < 0.001). These results indicate that AX fiber behaves like a rapidly fermentable, soluble fiber in the rat colon.