Oligosaccharide are carbohydrate molecules, comprising repeating units joined together by glycosidic bonds. In recent years, an increasing number of oligosaccharides have been reported to exhibit various biological activities, including antitumor, immune-stimulation and antioxidation effects. In the present study, crude water‑soluble oligosaccharides were extracted from the fruiting bodies of Hericium erinaceus with water and then successively purified by diethylaminoethyl‑cellulose 52 and Sephadex G‑100 column chromatography, yielding one major oligosaccharide fraction: Hericium erinaceus oligosaccharide (HEO‑A). The structural features of HEO‑A were investigated by a combination of monosaccharide component analysis by thin layer chromatography, infrared spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and high‑performance gel permeation chromatography. The results indicated that HEO‑A was composed of D‑xylose and D‑glucose, and the average molecular size was ~1,877 Da. The antioxidant activity of HEO‑A was evaluated using three biochemical methods to determine the scavenging activity of HEO‑A on 1,1‑diphenyl‑2‑picrylhydrazyl, hydrogen peroxide and 2,2'‑azino‑bis(3‑ethylbenzthiazoline‑6‑sufonic acid) diammonium radicals. The results indicated that HEO‑A may serve as an effective healthcare food and source of natural antioxidant compounds.