Heat treatments change the chemical and physical properties of wood and dimensional stability and hygroscopicity are affected as a result of modifications of wood cell components. This study evaluated the water absorption of wood specimens treated with boron compounds followed by heat treatment. Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica D. Don) sapwood specimens treated with either boric acid (BA) or disodium octoborate tetrahydrate (DOT) solutions were heat-modified at either 180 degrees or 220 degrees C for 2 or 4 h. Carbohydrate composition and water absorption of the specimens were then measured and compared with those of untreated and unheated specimens. Wood carbohydrates were significantly degraded in the specimens after heat treatment. The heat treatment evidently decreased the water absorption and the heat-modified specimens absorbed less water than unheated specimens. The higher the treatment temperature and the longer the treatment time, the lower the amount of absorbed water. The boron-treated and heat-modified specimens, however, showed increased water absorption due to the hygroscopic properties of BA and DOT.