Hemicellulose is one of the major constituents of biomass. Surprisingly, only very limited information regarding its product distribution under fast pyrolysis conditions is available in the literature. In the present study, a combination of several analytical techniques, including micro-pyrolyzer-GC-MS/FID, gas analysis, and capillary electrophoresis, were used to study the primary pyrolysis product distribution of hemicelluloses extracted and purified from switchgrass. A total of 16 products were identified and quantified, which accounted for 85 % of the overall mass balance. The pyrolysis behavior of hemicellulose was found to be considerably different than cellulose and was explained on the basis of a proposed mechanism for glycosidic bond cleavage. Further, the effect of minerals and temperature was investigated. The study provides insight into the fast pyrolysis behavior of hemicellulose and provides a basis for developing models that can predict bio-oil composition resulting from overall biomass fast pyrolysis.