Ciliate protozoa contribute to ruminal digestion and emission of the greenhouse gas methane. Individual species of ciliates co-cultured with mixed prokaryote populations were hypothesized to utilize carbohydrate types differently. In an in vitro batch culture experiment, 0.6 g of pure cellulose or xylan was incubated for 24 h in 40-mL cultures of Entodinium caudatum, Epidinium ecaudatum, and Eudiplodinium maggii with accompanying prokaryotes. Irrespective of ciliate species, gas formation (mL) and short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) concentrations (mmol L(-1)) were higher with xylan (71; 156) than with cellulose (52; 105). Methane did not differ (7.9% of total gas). The SCFA profiles resulting from fermentation of the carbohydrates were similar before and after removing the ciliates from the mixed microbial population. However, absolute methane production (mL 24 h(-1)) was lower by 50% on average after removing E. caudatum and E. maggii. Methanogen copies were less without E. maggii, but not without E. ecaudatum. Within 3 weeks part of this difference was compensated. Butyrate proportion was higher in cultures with E. maggii and E. ecaudatum than with E. caudatum and only when fermenting xylan. In conclusion, the three ciliate species partly differed in their response to carbohydrate type and in supporting methane formation.