The intestinal microbiota are important during enteral tube feeding because they exert colonization resistance and produce SCFAs. However, the effect of the enteral formula composition on major bacterial groups of the microbiota has not been clearly defined. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of enteral formulas with and without prebiotic fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and fiber on the fecal microbiota and SCFAs. Healthy subjects (n = 10; 4 men, 6 women) consumed both a standard enteral formula and one containing FOS (5.1 g/L) and fiber (8.9 g/L) as a sole source of nutrition for 14 d in a randomized, double-blind, crossover trial with a 6-wk washout phase. Fecal samples were collected at the start and end of each formula phase, and were analyzed for major bacterial groups and SCFA concentrations using fluorescent in situ hybridization and GLC, respectively. Although there were reductions in total fecal bacteria due to both formula treatments, concentrations were higher after the FOS/fiber formula period compared with the standard formula period (11.2 +/- 0.2 vs. 11.0 +/- 0.2 log(10) cells/g, P = 0.005). The FOS/fiber formula increased bifidobacteria (P = 0.004) and reduced clostridia (P = 0.006). Compared with the standard formula, the FOS/fiber formula resulted in higher concentrations of total SCFA (332.4 +/- 133.8 vs. 220.1 +/- 124.5 micromol/g, P = 0.022), acetate (219.6 +/- 96.3 vs. 136.8 +/- 74.5 micromol/g, P = 0.034) and propionate (58.4 +/- 37.4 vs. 35.6 +/- 25.5 micromol/g, P = 0.02). This study demonstrates that standard enteral formula leads to adverse alterations to the fecal microbiota and SCFA concentrations in healthy subjects, and these alterations are partially prevented by fortification of the formula with FOS and fiber.