Abstract Illumination with white linearly polarized light (WLPL) stimulated chitinase and chitosanase in their degradation of chitin and chitosan, respectively. Enzymes were illuminated at room temperature in separate vessels, then admixed in reactors containing polysaccharides. Hydrolysis of chitosan to glucosamine followed first order kinetics whereas hydrolysis of chitin to N-acetylglucosamine deviated from the first order kinetics. In both cases, an increase in the rate of hydrolysis depended on the illumination time. Efficient degradation required up to 60 min exposure of the enzyme to WLPL.