Abstract In this paper, plasma acid was obtained by treating distilled water with dielectric barrier discharge to hydrolyze hemicellulose. The orthogonal experiment L25(56) was used to optimize such hydrolysis conditions. The total reducing sugar (TRS) was measured by the DNS method. To determine whether the oligosaccharide existed in the hydrolysis products, it was hydrolyzed by sulfuric acid for a second time following the same procedure as reported earlier. The monosaccharide compositions of the hydrolyzed sample were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The results showed that pH 2.81 of plasma acid, 100°C and 50min were assigned as an optimal hydrolysis condition by plasma acid. Under this condition, the hemicellulose was hydrolyzed completely to produce monosaccharides including xylose, glucose, and galactose with the mole ratio being 17:3:1. The yields of xylose, glucose, and galactose were 38.67%, 9.28% and 3.09%, respectively. Compared with the hemicellulose hydrolysis results by sulfuric acid, it is concluded that plasma acid is an environmental-friendly and efficient method to explore and hydrolyze the hemicellulose existed in biomass.