The hydrolytic hydrogenation of hemicellulose arabinogalactan was investigated in the presence of protonic and Ru (1–5 wt.%)-modified USY zeolites (Si/Al ratio = 15 and 30). The use of the purely acidic materials was effective in depolymerizing the macromolecule into free sugars. While the latter partly dehydrated into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural, the generation of high molecular-weight compounds (aggregates of sugars and humins) was not favored, in contrast to previous evidences over beta zeolites. Application of the bifunctional Ru/USY catalyst, comprising well-dispersed metallic nanoparticles on the aluminosilicate support, resulted in the formation of galactitol and arabitol, in the suppression of dehydration side products, and further inhibition of polymerization reactions, which only yielded low molecular-weight oligomers. Detailed analysis of the reaction pathways as well as kinetic modeling of hydrolytic hydrogenation was performed with an advanced reaction mechanism.