1. Two experiments were conducted to study the effects of crude enzyme preparations (β-glucanase and arabinoxylanase) and/or 20 g/kg Sepiolite (Exal®) on the performance and nutrient digestion of broiler chickens fed on maize-barley-wheat based diets. 2. In experiment 1, enzymes improved daily bodyweight gain (by 14%; P<0.001) and food:gain ratios (8%; P<0.001). Sepiolite improved bodyweight gain on the diets not supplemented simultaneously with enzymes (by 6% in 21-d-old chickens, P<0.05) but reduced it for enzymes-supplemented diets. Changes in productive performance with both additives were associated with changes in diet digestibility and nitrogen balance. 3. In experiment 2, enzyme supplementation reduced viscosity in jejunum and ileum and the mean retention time of digesta in the gut. Sepiolite inclusion significantly reduced the viscosity of jejunum digesta and modified the retention times of digesta in the gut, depending upon whether enzymes had been added. There was a decreased retention time without enzymes but an increase with enzyme supplementation. 4. Although different mechanisms are presumed for enzymes and sepiolite, both seem to counteract the negative effects of soluble, non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) in the diet by modifying jejunal viscosity and improving organic matter digestibility. © 2000, British Poultry Science Ltd.