The aim of this work was to investigate the poorly understood effects of co-culturing of two white rot fungi on the production of lignin-degrading enzyme activities. Four species, Ceriporiopsis subvermispora, Physisporinus rivulosus, Phanerochaete chrysosporium and Pleurotus ostreatus were cultured in pairs to study the degradation of aspen wood and the production of lignin-degrading enzymes. Potential of co-culturing for biopulping was evaluated. Chemical analysis of decayed aspen wood blocks showed that co-culturing of C subvermispora with P. ostreatus could significantly stimulate wood decay, when compared to monocultures. Based on the fungi tested here, however, this effect is species-specific. Other combinations of fungi were slightly stimulating or not stimulatory. The pattern of lignin degradation was altered towards the acid insoluble part of lignin especially in co-cultures where P. ostreatus was included as a partner. The use of agar plates containing the polymeric dye Poly R-478 showed elevated dye decolourization at the confrontation zone between mycelia. Laccase was significantly stimulated only in the co-culture of P. ostreatus with C subvermispora. Manganese peroxidase activity was stimulated in co-cultures of P. ostreatus with C subvermispora or with P. rivulosus. Immunoblotting indicated changes in lignin-degrading enzymes and/or their isoform composition in response to co-culturing. This is the first report on the effects of coculturing of potential biopulping fungi on wood degradation, and gives basic knowledge on fungal interactions during wood decay that can be utilized in practical applications. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.