The effect of pH and substrate dose on the fermentation profile of a number of commercial prebiotics was analysed in triplicate using stirred, pH and temperature controlled anaerobic batch culture fermentations, inoculated with a fresh faecal slurry from one of three healthy volunteers. Bacterial numbers were enumerated using fluorescence in situ hybridisation. The commercial prebiotics investigated were fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, galactooligosaccharides (GOS), isomaltooligosaccharides (IMO) and lactulose. Two pH values were investigated, i.e. pH 6 and 6.8. Doses of 1% and 2% (w/v) were investigated, equivalent to approximately 4 and 8 g per day, respectively, in an adult diet. It was found that both pH and dose altered the bacterial composition. It was observed that FOS and inulin demonstrated the greatest bifidogenic effect at pH 6.8 and 1% (w/v) carbohydrate, whereas GOS, IMO and lactulose demonstrated their greatest bifidogenic effect at pH 6 and 2% (w/v) carbohydrate. From this we can conclude that various prebiotics demonstrate differing bifidogenic effects at different conditions in vitro.