We report the cloning and characterization of a gene encoding a ferulic acid esterase, faeA, from Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus tubingensis. The A. niger and A. tubingensis genes have a high degree of sequence identity and contain one conserved intron. The gene product, FAEA, was overexpressed in wild-type A. tubingensis and a protease-deficient A. niger mutant. Overexpression of both genes in wild-type A. tubingensis and an A. niger protease-deficient mutant showed that the A. tubingensis gene product is more sensitive to degradation than the equivalent gene product from A. niger. FAEA from A. niger was identical to A. niger FAE-III (C. B. Faulds and G. Williamson, Microbiology 140:779-787, 1994), as assessed by molecular mass, pH and temperature optima, pI, N-terminal sequence, and activity on methyl ferulate. The faeA gene was induced by growth on wheat arabinoxylan and sugar beet pectin, and its gene product (FAEA) released ferulic acid from wheat arabinoxylan. The rate of release was enhanced by the presence of a xylanase. FAEA also hydrolyzed smaller amounts of ferulic acid from sugar beet pectin, but the rate was hardly affected by addition of an endo-pectin lyase.