Pyrolysis experiments have been conducted on a sample of corncob to determine the effects of pyrolysis temperature, heating rate and sweep gas flow rate on the pyrolysis product yields and their chemical compositions. The temperature of pyrolysis, heating rate and sweep gas flow rate were varied in the ranges of 400-550 degrees C, 7-40 degrees C min(-1) and 50-200 cm(3) min(-1), respectively. The maximum oil yield of 26.44 wt.% was obtained at a pyrolysis temperature of 500 degrees C, heating rate of 40 degrees C min(-1) and sweeping gas flow rate of 100 cm(3) min(-1). The elemental analysis and calorific value of the oil were determined, and the chemical composition of the oil was investigated using chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques (column chromatography, FTIR, H-1-NMR). Chromatographic and spectroscopic studies on the bio-oil showed that the bio-oil obtained from corncob could be used as a renewable fuel and chemical feedstock with a calorific value of 26.22 MJ kg(-1) and empirical formula of CH1.34O0.28N0.01. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.