Convert a string representation of a hex dump to a byte array using Java?

Update (2021) – Java 17 now includes java.util.HexFormat (only took 25 years):


For older versions of Java:

Here’s a solution that I think is better than any posted so far:

/* s must be an even-length string. */
public static byte[] hexStringToByteArray(String s) {
    int len = s.length();
    byte[] data = new byte[len / 2];
    for (int i = 0; i < len; i += 2) {
        data[i / 2] = (byte) ((Character.digit(s.charAt(i), 16) << 4)
                             + Character.digit(s.charAt(i+1), 16));
    return data;

Reasons why it is an improvement:

  • Safe with leading zeros (unlike BigInteger) and with negative byte values (unlike Byte.parseByte)

  • Doesn’t convert the String into a char[], or create StringBuilder and String objects for every single byte.

  • No library dependencies that may not be available

Feel free to add argument checking via assert or exceptions if the argument is not known to be safe.

Leave a Comment