Steam-exploded eucalyptus wood chips were treated with p-cresol and 72% sulfuric acid at ambient temperature. Steam-exploded lignin was isolated as acetone-soluble and diethyl ether-insoluble compounds from the cresol layer. The lignin extraction yield was only 47%, and the amount of cresol grafted to lignin was much less than that in the case of eucalyptus lignin without steam explosion. Clearly, the steam explosion process depolymerized native lignin, and simultaneously, promoted polymerization via labile benzyl positions. The steam-exploded eucalyptus lignin adsorbed more Trichoderma reesei cellulase; however, its enzymatic activity was less than that of eucalyptus lignin that did not undergo steam explosion. It is evident that pretreatment potentially affects the affinity between lignin and cellulase and the resultant saccharification efficiency. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.