The current study investigated the effect of a neutral polysaccharide, konjac glucomannan, on the heat-induced gelation of whey protein isolate (WPI) at pH 7. Oscillatory rheology (1 rad/s; 0.5% strain), differential scanning calorimetry and confocal laser scanning microscopy were used to investigate the effect of addition of konjac in the range 0-0.5% w/w, on the thermal gelation properties of WPI. The minimum gelling concentration for WPI samples was 11% w/w; the concentration was therefore held constant at this value. Gelation of WPI was induced by heating the samples from 20 to 80 degrees C, holding at 80 degrees C for 30 min, cooling to 20 degrees C, and holding at 20 degrees C for a further 30 min. On incorporation of increasing concentrations of konjac the gelation time decreased, while the storage modulus (G') of the mixed gel systems increased to similar to 1450 Pa for 11% w/w WPI containing 0.5% w/w konjac gels, compared to 15 Pa for 11% w/w WPI gels (no konjac). This increase in gel strength was attributed to segregative interactions between denatured whey proteins and konjac glucomannan. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.