The endosperm cell walls of barley are degraded extensively during malting whilst those of sorghum are not. Malting barley produced endo-ß-1,3:1,4-glucanase, endo-ß-1,3-glucanase and pentosanase in large quantities. In contrast, malting sorghum developed mainly endo-ß-1,3-glucanase and pentosanase. Although the limited break-down of the endosperm cell walls of sorghum may reflect sub-optimal activities of ß-glucanases, such as endo-ß-1,3:1,4-glucanases, it is possible that the highly intractable nature of the cell walls and their high protein content (approx. 60%) may contribute to the low susceptibility of sorghum endosperm cell walls to enzymic degradation during malting. © 1990 Rapid Communications of Oxford Ltd.