A qualified estimate for pretreatment of the macroalgae Chaetomorpha linum for ethanol production was given, based on the experience of pretreatment of land-based biomass. C. linum was subjected to hydrothermal pretreatment (HTT), wet oxidation (WO), steam explosion (STEX), plasma-assisted pretreatment (PAP) and ball milling (BM), to determine effects of the pretreatment methods on the conversion of C. linum into ethanol by simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF). WO and BM showed the highest ethanol yield of 44. g ethanol/100. g glucan, which was close to the theoretical ethanol yield of 57. g ethanol/100. g glucan. A 64% higher ethanol yield, based on raw material, was reached after pretreatment with WO and BM compared with unpretreated C. linum, however 50% of the biomass was lost during WO. Results indicated that the right combination of pretreatment and marine macroalgae, containing high amounts of glucan and cleaned from salts, enhanced the ethanol yield significantly. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.