Probiotic bacteria play an important role in protecting the host from intestinal colonization of pathogenic bacteria. We have developed a new analytical approach based on a real-time PCR technique for quantifying Bifidobacterium adhesion to intestinal epithelial cells. Real-time PCR analysis showed that adhesion to enterocyte-like Caco-2 cells represented a variable phenotype in the genus Bifidobacterium, enabling classification of three adhesion behaviors: high adhesiveness (>40 bifidobacterial cells/Caco-2 cell); adhesiveness (5-40 bifidobacterial cells/Caco-2 cell); no adhesiveness (<5 bifidobacterial cells/Caco-2 cell). This molecular methodology was successfully used in competition studies in enteropathogens. All bifidobacterial strains examined evidenced displacement activity towards important enteropathogens (S. typhimurium, Y. enterocolitica and E. coli EPEC). Real-time PCR is a rapid, accurate and sensitive method for detecting and quantifying different bacterial genera and species simultaneously adhering to a epithelial cell monolayer.