The faecal microbiota of 166 healthy Japanese newborns was analysed periodically from day 1 after birth until the age of 3 years by using the reverse transcription-quantitative PCR. Faecal pH and the organic acid concentration were also examined. Colonisation by both facultative anaerobes and strict anaerobes was confirmed in 95% of the meconium tested. Bifidobacterium-predominant microbiota was established subsequently in most of the infants by 3 months after birth. Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium catenulatum group and Bifidobacterium bifidum were the species mainly detected. Intergroup correlation analysis revealed that the bifidobacterial population levels, but not other strict anaerobe groups, were found to be negatively correlated with those of the Enterobacteriaceae from 7 days until 3 months after birth. Faecal pH was maintained at about 6 until 6 months after birth and reached 6.6 at 3 years after birth. The initial concentration of faecal organic acids (19 μM/g of faeces) just after birth increased until 3 years after birth to the level of 111 μM/g of faeces. Early start of feeding formula milk promoted colonisation by obligate anaerobes such as the Clostridium coccoides group, the Clostridium leptum subgroup, Prevotella, and Atopobium cluster during the 3 months after birth. Population levels of the bifidobacteria until 1 month after birth and those of the Bacteroides fragilis group until 6 months after birth were lower in infants delivered by Caesarean section than in those delivered normally. The results suggested that both earlier start of feeding of formula milk and the mode of infant delivery were found to be important in the development of intestinal microbiota in early infancy.