Wheat straw was treated with NaOH and anaerobically digested for methane production. Alkaline treatment resulted in a greater than 100% increase in biodegradability of wheat straw. The potential of a process flow scheme employing high alkali concentration at ambient temperature with solids separation and recycle of filtrate containing residual alkali was explored. The effect of NaOH on the solubilization of cell wall constituents and potential problems of toxicity are discussed. A solubilization model was developed which is used to predict biodegradability of whole samples based on solids and filtrate biodegradabilities. Energy requirements and chemical costs are also addressed.