The content and composition of carbohydrates comprising polysaccharides in sapwood and heartwood of 12 industrially important pulpwood species were analysed. The polysaccharide content was between 60% and 80% (w/w) for all species, with cellulose as the predominant polysaccharide type. The carbohydrate composition suggested that the main non-cellulose polysaccharides were galactoglucomannans, except in Larix heartwood, where arabinogalactans were predominant, while the content of xylans were in the same range as the mannans in Pinus resinosa heartwood and Thuja occidentalis heartwood and sapwood. Pectins, i.e. polygalacturonic acids, were the main acidic polysaccharides in all species. The amount and composition of water-soluble carbohydrates from ground wood samples were also analysed, since these are important in mechanical pulping and as a possible source of bioactive polymers. The main polysaccharides released from the spruce species were mannans, together with starch from sapwood. Especially Abies balsamea stemwood, but also Abies sibirica heartwood, released considerable amounts of pectins, suggesting that fir species may release more troublesome anionic polysaccharides than spruce species. Heartwood of Larix lariciana, Larix decidua, Pinus banksiana, and Pinus resinosa released considerable amounts of acidic arabinogalactans. Thuja occidentalis released mainly arabinogalactans and pectins. Pseudotsuga menziesii heartwood released a large amount of arabinogalactans.