The influence of two pretreatment methods, thermal treatment and low-pressure wet oxidation, on the sludge digestion efficiency was examined. Batch thermophilic anaerobic digestion was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the pretreatment methods in terms of volatile suspended solids (VSS) digestion efficiency and gas production. The results showed that the gas production was not proportional to the VSS degradation efficiency of either thermal treatment or low-pressure wet oxidation. Low-pressure wet oxidation treatment at 150 °C along with 40% of the theoretical oxygen required to oxidize organic carbon gave the highest gas production and the VSS digestion efficiency of 77% at a VSS loading rate of 8 g l−1 d−1. The digestion efficiency was about 30% higher than that of thermophilic anaerobic digestion without sludge pretreatment. Sewage sludge could be treated effectively at a high VSS digestion efficiency with this pretreatment followed by thermophilic anaerobic digestion.