The extraction of sulfated polysaccharides (fucoidan) by autohydrolysis (AH) of brown seaweed Fucus vesiculosus was studied. Experimental assays were performed under different conditions of temperature (160 to 200°C) and reaction time (10 to 30 min) according to a 22 central composite design, and the conditions able to maximize the fucoidan yield were selected. The alga degradation and the total sugar yield in the liquor after AH were also determined to each experimental condition. The highest fucoidan yield (∼16.5% w/w) was obtained when the AH process was performed at 180°C for 20 min. This product was characterized by high-performance liquid chromatography, infrared analysis spectroscopy, and thermal gravimetric analyses, which verified the presence of fucose and galactose as main components (70:30% mol ratio, in average) and an SO3 content higher than 20%. AH process under optimum reaction conditions was an effective method to recover fucoidan from F. vesiculosus. The use of this technology brings also important advantages from economical and environmental viewpoints since it does not require the use of chemical solvent and generates less waste when compared to conventional extraction procedures.