Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, ATCC (LGG), has shown antagonism to many bacteria including mutans streptococci. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention study was designed to examine whether milk containing LGG has an effect on caries and the risk of caries in children when compared with normal milk. 594 children, 1-6 years old, from 18 municipal day-care centres were included. The children received the milk with meals from coded containers 5 days a week in the day-care centres for 7 months. The children's oral health was recorded at baseline and at the end, using WHO criteria. The caries risk was calculated based on clinical and microbiological data, comprising mutans streptococcus levels from dental plaque and saliva. The risk was classified as high if the child had a dmft/DMFT or initial caries score >0, and a mutans streptococcus count > or = 10(5) CFU/ml. The results showed less dental caries in the LGG group and lower mutans streptococcus counts at the end of the study. LGG was found to reduce the risk of caries significantly (OR = 0.56, p = 0.01; controlled for age and gender, OR = 0.51, p = 0.004). The effect was particularly clear in the 3- to 4-year-olds. Thus, milk containing the probiotic LGG bacteria may have beneficial effects on children's dental health.