Wheat gliadin induces severe intestinal symptoms and small-bowel mucosal damage in coeliac disease patients. At present, the only effective treatment for the disease is a strict life-long gluten-free diet. In this study we investigated whether probiotics Lactobacillus fermentum or Bifidobacterium lactis can inhibit the toxic effects of gliadin in intestinal cell culture conditions. The ability of live probiotics to inhibit peptic-tryptic digested gliadin-induced damage to human colon cells Caco-2 was evaluated by measuring epithelial permeability by transepithelial resistance, actin cytoskeleton arrangements by the extent of membrane ruffling and expression of tight junctional protein ZO-1. B. lactis inhibited the gliadin-induced increase dose-dependently in epithelial permeability, higher concentrations completely abolishing the gliadin-induced decrease in transepithelial resistance. The same bacterial strain also inhibited the formation of membrane ruffles in Caco-2 cells induced by gliadin administration. Furthermore, it also protected the tight junctions of Caco-2 cells against the effects of gliadin, as evinced by the pattern of ZO-1 expression. We conclude thus that live B. lactis bacteria can counteract directly the harmful effects exerted by coeliac-toxic gliadin and would clearly warrant further studies of its potential as a novel dietary supplement in the treatment of coeliac disease.