1. The current experiment is the second part of a study about the effects of wheat quality on digestibility of pelleted diets for broiler chickens. In the first part, it was shown that a hard cultivar resulted in a negative effect on starch digestibility in two divergent lines of chickens (D+ and D-) selected for digestion capacity. The aim of this second part was to investigate the reasons for this negative effect of a hard cultivar (Baltimor) compared to a soft one (Scipion) in D+ and D- lines. 2. Proventriculus pepsin activity and pancreas proteolytic and amylolytic activities were estimated in 4 pools of birds: 'D+ line (Baltimor fed)', 'D+ line (Scipion fed)', 'D- line (Baltimor fed)' and 'D- line (Scipion fed)'. Results suggested the greatest amount of pepsin units per g BW for D+ birds and the lowest amount of pancreas proteolytic units per g BW for D+ birds fed Scipion wheat. Pancreas showed very similar alpha-amylase activities among treatments. 3. In vitro hydrolyses of wheat gluten proteins with proventriculus extracts from pools of D+ and D- birds did not show any differences between hard and soft cultivars, whatever the origin of pools. 4. Pepsin hydrolysis of fine (300 to 425 microm) and coarse (1180 to 1600 microm) fractions from wheat flours (Baltimor or Scipion) showed that the 30 min proteolysis rate was highest for the fine fraction in both cultivars. No difference was observed with extended hydrolysis time. 5. In vitro digestion simulation of whole wheat flours confirmed the results previously obtained in vivo, with a negative effect of hard cultivar on starch digestion rate and no effect on protein digestion. 6. Laser particle size analyses showed that ileum digesta from birds fed with hard wheat cultivar showed the highest proportion of coarse particles. 7. Microscopic analyses of D+ ileum digesta revealed that the concentration of undigested starch granules in the subaleurone area of wheat bran particles was the highest with hard cultivar. 8. The results suggested that physical entrapment of starch granules in coarse particles was a major explanation for decreased starch digestibility values in chickens fed hard wheat diets.