The effects of the redox environment on acidic hydrothermal pretreatment were investigated in experiments with sugarcane bagasse (190 °C, 14 min) and Norway spruce (205 °C, 5 min). To modulate the redox environment, pretreatment was performed without gas addition, with N2, or with O2. Analyses covered pretreated solids, pretreatment liquids, condensates, enzymatic digestibility, and inhibitory effects of pretreatment liquids on yeast. Addition of gas, especially O2, resulted in increased severity, as reflected by up to 18 percent units lower recoveries of pretreated solids, up to 31 percent units lower glucan recoveries, improved hemicellulose removal, formation of pseudo-lignin, improved overall glucan conversion, and increased concentrations of several microbial inhibitors. Some inhibitors, such as formaldehyde and coniferyl aldehyde, did not, however, follow that pattern. TAC (Total Aromatic Content) values reflected inhibitory effects of pretreatment liquids. This study demonstrates how gas addition can be used to modulate the severity of acidic hydrothermal pretreatment.