A wide range of food-derived bioactive peptides have been shown to exert health-promoting actions and are therefore considered functional foods or nutraceuticals. Some of these actions are related to the maintenance, reinforcement or repairment of the intestinal barrier function (IBF) whose role is to selectively allow the absorption of water, nutrients and ions while preventing the influx of microorganisms from the intestinal lumen. Alterations in the IBF have been related to many disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease or metabolic syndrome. Components of IBF are the intestinal epithelium, the mucus layer, secretory immunoglobulin A and cells of the innate and adaptive immune systems. Here we review the effects of food derived bioactive peptides on these IBF components. In vitro and in vivo effects, both in healthy and disease states, have been reviewed. Although limited, the available information indicates a potential for food-derived peptides to modify IBF and to contribute to disease treatment, but further research is needed to better isolate responsible peptides, and to help define their mode of action.