De-esterification and sulfonation reactions, which create new anionic groups in the middle lamella and primary wall layers, are the key chemical reactions in chemithermomechanical pulping. The effects of these reactions on the resulting fibre dimensions, refining energy demand, hand-sheet bulk and strength properties were assessed by laboratory-scale chemical pre-treatments and refining of Norway spruce chips. After pre-treatments with alkaline, sulfite, alkaline sulfite and alkaline peroxide liquors, a Wing defibrator-type batch refiner was used. The refining energy was measured. The degree of alkaline hydrolysis of acetyl and methyl ester groups in galactoglucomannans (GGMs) and pectins, and the degree of lignin sulfonation were determined. Hand-sheets were prepared and their physical properties were tested. The data were subjected to multivariate analysis and the order of significance of the chemical reactions towards pulp and paper properties was estimated. Chemical pre-treatments were found to increase the fibre length and the energy demand considerably. The fibre length and width after refining were strongly influenced by lignin sulfonation and pectin demethylation. GGM deacetylation had little influence on preserving the fibre dimensions in CTMP refining. The bulk, on the other hand, was highly influenced by GGM deacetylation. Peroxide reactions in alkaline peroxide treatments had no effect on the pulp and paper properties.