A moderately halophilic bacterium, Halomonas xianhensis SUR308 (Genbank Accession No. KJ933394) was isolated from a multi-pond solar saltern at Surala, Ganjam district, Odisha, India. The isolate produced a significant amount (7.87 g l −1 ) of extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) when grown in malt extract-yeast extract medium supplemented with 2.5% NaCl, 0.5% casein hydrolysate and 3% glucose. The EPS was isolated and purified following the conventional method of precipitation and dialysis. Chromatographic analysis (paper, GC and GC-MS) of the hydrolyzed EPS confirmed its heteropolymeric nature and showed that it is composed mainly of glucose (45.74 mol%), galactose (33.67 mol %) and mannose (17.83 mol%). Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy indicated the presence of methylene and carboxyl groups as characteristic functional groups. In addition, its proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectrum revealed functional groups specific for extracellular polysaccharides. X-ray diffraction analysis revealed the amorphous nature (CI xrd , 0.56) of the EPS. It was thermostable up to 250°C and displayed pseudoplastic rheology and remarkable stability against pH and salts. These unique properties of the EPS produced by H. xianhensis indicate its potential to act as an agent for detoxification, emulsification and diverse biological activities. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.