Yogurt and other conventional starter cultures and probiotic bacteria in fermented and unfermented milk products improve lactose digestion and eliminate symptoms of intolerance in lactose maldigesters. These beneficial effects are due to microbial beta-galactosidase in the (fermented) milk product, delayed gastrointestinal transit, positive effects on intestinal functions and colonic microflora, and reduced sensitivity to symptoms. Intact bacterial cell walls, which act as a mechanical protection of lactase during gastric transit, and the release of the enzyme into the small intestine are determinants of efficiency. There is a poor correlation between lactose maldigestion and intolerance; in some studies, low hydrogen exhalation without significant improvement of clinical symptoms was observed. Probiotic bacteria, which by definition target the colon, normally promote lactose digestion in the small intestine less efficiently than do yogurt cultures. They may, however, alleviate clinical symptoms brought about by undigested lactose or other reasons.