The objective of this study is to perform a comprehensive enzyme kinetics analysis in view of validating and consolidating a semimechanistic kinetic model consisting of homogeneous and heterogeneous reactions for enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass proposed by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Kadam et al., Biotechnol Prog 20(3):698–705, 2004) and its variations proposed in this work. A number of dedicated experiments were carried out under a range of initial conditions (Avicel® versus pretreated barley straw as substrate, different enzyme loadings and different product inhibitors such as glucose, cellobiose and xylose) to test the hydrolysis and product inhibition mechanisms of the model. A nonlinear least squares method was used to identify the model and estimate kinetic parameters based on the experimental data. The suitable mathematical model for industrial application was selected among the proposed models based on statistical information (weighted sum of square errors). The analysis showed that transglycosylation plays a key role at high glucose levels. It also showed that the values of parameters depend on the selected experimental data used for parameter estimation. Therefore, the parameter values are not universal and should be used with caution. The model proposed by Kadam et al. (Biotechnol Prog 20(3):698–705, 2004) failed to predict the hydrolysis phenomena at high glucose levels, but when combined with transglycosylation reaction(s), the prediction of cellulose hydrolysis behaviour over a broad range of substrate concentrations (50–150 g/L) and enzyme loadings (15.8–31.6 and 1–5.9 mg protein/g cellulose for Celluclast and Novozyme 188, respectively) was possible. This is the first study introducing transglycosylation into the semimechanistic model. As long as these type of models are used within the boundary of their validity (substrate type, enzyme source and substrate concentration), they can support process design and technology improvement efforts at pilot and full-scale studies.