We tested the decay abilities of 28 isolates from 28 lignicolous fungal species (Basidiomycota, Ascomycota and Zygomycota) with the pure culture test. We used beech wood powder in varying moisture conditions and decay stages (nondecayed, intermediately decayed and well decayed) as substrates. The weight loss in wood powder was -0.2-17.8%. Five isolates of Basidiomycota (Bjerkandera adusta, Mycena haematopus, Omphalotus guepiniformis, Trametes hirsuta, Trametes versicolor) caused high weight losses in nondecayed wood. We detected significant effects of decay stage on weight loss in wood in most isolates tested, whereas moisture content rarely had an effect on weight loss. Among Basidiomycota and Xylariaceae in Ascomycota weight loss was greater for nondecayed wood than for intermediately and well decayed wood. In contrast four isolates in Ascomycota (Scytalidium lignicola, Trichoderma hamatum, T. harzianum, T. koningii) caused substantial weight loss in intermediately and well decayed wood, although they rarely caused weight loss in nondecayed wood. Zygomycota caused low weight loss in wood. Wood decay stages also affected decomposition of wood chemical components. Acid-unhydrolyzable residue (AUR) decomposition was reduced, whereas holocellulose decomposition was stimulated by some strains of Basidiomycota and Ascomycota in well decayed wood. T. harzianum in particular caused significant weight loss of holocellulose in well decayed wood, although this fungus caused negligible weight loss of both AUR and holocellulose in nondecayed wood. We discuss these changes in the decay patterns of AUR and holocellulose with varying wood decay stages in relation to the role of fungal decomposition of woody debris in forests.