In this study, steam explosion pretreatment was performed in cotton stalks, leading to 5-6 folds enhancements on biomass enzymatic saccharification distinctive in Gossypium barbadense and Gossypium hirsutum species. Sequential 1% H2SO4 pretreatment could further increase biomass digestibility of the steam-exploded stalks, and also cause the highest sugar-ethanol conversion rates probably by releasing less inhibitor to yeast fermentation. By comparison, extremely high concentration alkali (16% NaOH) pretreatment with raw stalks resulted in the highest hexoses yields, but it had the lowest sugar-ethanol conversion rates. Characterization of wall polymer features indicated that biomass saccharification was enhanced with steam explosion by largely reducing cellulose DP and extracting hemicelluloses. It also showed that cellulose crystallinity and arabinose substitution degree of xylans were the major factors on biomass digestibility in cotton stalks. Hence, this study has provided the insights into cell wall modification and biomass process technology in cotton stalks and beyond.