The Bacova_02091 gene in the β-mannan utilization locus of Bacteroides ovatus encodes a family GH36 α-galactosidase (BoGal36A), transcriptionally upregulated during growth on galactomannan. Characterization of recombinant BoGal36A reveals unique properties compared to other GH36 α-galactosidases, which preferentially hydrolyse terminal α-galactose in raffinose family oligosaccharides. BoGal36A prefers hydrolysing internal galactose substitutions from intact and depolymerized galactomannan. BoGal36A efficiently releases (> 90%) galactose from guar and locust bean galactomannans, resulting in precipitation of the polysaccharides. As compared to other GH36 structures, the BoGal36A 3D model displays a loop deletion, resulting in a wider active site cleft which likely can accommodate a galactose-substituted polymannose backbone. © 2016 The Authors. FEBS Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Federation of European Biochemical Societies.