Abstract This paper concerns the properties of two ionic polysaccharides with very close chemical structures. pH metric and conductimetric measurements showed that they behave similarly from a polyelectrolytic point of view. From optical rotation and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) measurements, the two polymers probably adopt a double helical conformation which is destabilised by deacetylation. The main differences concern the stability of this ordered conformation and the ability of these double helices to associate to form gels. The results support a higher thermal stability of the ordered conformation for deacetylated RMDP17 (about 8°C), whereas deacetylated rhamsan has a better ability to form gels.