The principal carbohydrate of human milk is the disaccharide lactose. In human and all mammalian species, lactose is hydrolyzed in the small intestine by lactase-phlorizin hydrolase, also abbreviated as lactase. The absence of lactase results in the passage of undigested lactose into the large intestine and is associated with a well-known clinical syndrome: lactose intolerance. Low lactase levels result either from intestinal injury or, as in the majority of world's adult population, from alterations in the genetic expression of lactase. In this review terminology, pathophysiology, symptoms, diagnostic procedures, and therapy of lactose intolerance will be discussed.