The objective of the present study was to evaluate digestive physiological outcomes elicited by functional fibres fed to healthy adult men. A total of twenty-one healthy adult men were utilised in a cross-over design. Each subject received polydextrose (PDX) or soluble maize fibre (SCF) (21 g/d) or no supplemental fibre (no fibre control; NFC) in a snack bar. Periods were 21 d and faeces were collected during the last 5 d of each period. Food intake, including fibre intake, did not differ among treatments. Flatulence (P = 0·001) and distention (P = 0·07) were greatest when subjects consumed PDX or SCF. Reflux was greater (P = 0·04) when subjects consumed SCF compared with NFC. All tolerance scores were low ( < 2·5), indicating only slight discomfort. Faecal ammonia, 4-methylphenol, indole and branched-chain fatty acid concentrations were decreased (P < 0·01) when subjects consumed the functional fibre sources compared with NFC. Faecal acetate, propionate and butyrate concentrations were lower (P < 0·05) when subjects consumed PDX compared with SCF and NFC. Faecal pH was lower (P = 0·01) when subjects consumed SCF compared with NFC, while PDX was intermediate. Faecal wet weight was greatest (P = 0·03) when subjects consumed SCF compared with NFC. Faecal dry weight tended to be greater (P = 0·07) when subjects consumed PDX compared with NFC. The functional fibres led to 1·4 and 0·9 g (PDX and SCF, respectively) increases in faecal dry mass per g supplemental fibre intake. Bifidobacterium spp. concentrations were greater (P < 0·05) when subjects consumed SCF compared with NFC. These functional fibres appear to be beneficial to gut health while leading to minimal gastrointestinal upset.