Abstract Background Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) are powerful enzymes that oxidatively cleave plant cell wall polysaccharides. LPMOs classified as fungal Auxiliary Activities family 9 (AA9) have been mainly studied for their activity towards cellulose; however, various members of this AA9 family have been also shown to oxidatively cleave hemicelluloses, in particularly xyloglucan (XG). So far, it has not been studied in detail how various AA9 LPMOs act in XG degradation, and in particular, how the mode-of-action relates to the structural configuration of these LPMOs. Results Two Neurospora crassa (Nc) LPMOs were found to represent different mode-of-action towards XG. Interestingly, the configuration of active site segments of these LPMOs differed as well, with a shorter Segment 1 (−Seg1) and a longer Segment 2 (+Seg2) present in NcLPMO9C and the opposite for NcLPMO9M (+Seg1−Seg2). We confirmed that NcLPMO9C cleaved the non-reducing end of unbranched glucosyl residues within XG via the oxidation of the C4-carbon. In contrast, we found that the oxidative cleavage of the XG backbone by NcLPMO9M occurred next to both unbranched and substituted glucosyl residues. The latter are decorated with xylosyl, xylosyl–galactosyl and xylosyl–galactosyl–fucosyl units. The relationship between active site segments and the mode-of-action of these NcLPMOs was rationalized by a structure-based phylogenetic analysis of fungal AA9 LPMOs. LPMOs with a −Seg1+Seg2 configuration clustered together and appear to have a similar XG substitution-intolerant cleavage pattern. LPMOs with the +Seg1−Seg2 configuration also clustered together and are reported to display a XG substitution-tolerant cleavage pattern. A third cluster contained LPMOs with a −Seg1−Seg2 configuration and no oxidative XG activity. Conclusions The detailed characterization of XG degradation products released by LPMOs reveal a correlation between the configuration of active site segments and mode-of-action of LPMOs. In particular, oxidative XG-active LPMOs, which are tolerant and intolerant to XG substitutions are structurally and phylogenetically distinguished from XG-inactive LPMOs. This study contributes to a better understanding of the structure–function relationship of AA9 LPMOs.