The bacterial population colonising the large intestine is able to metabolise a variety of ingested or endogenously produced substances to products, some of which possess toxic, mutagenic or carcinogenic properties. Dietary components, resistant to digestion and absorption in the upper alimentary tract, may influence these reactions by altering the environment of the gut or through the provision of nutrients to the flora. Evidence for the involvement of bacterial enzymes in the formation of toxic products in vivo has come largely from animal studies, particularly where fermentable plant cell-wall components are present in the diet. The role of diet in the modification of toxicologically important bacterial biotransformation processes will be discussed. Preliminary data will also be presented from a study demonstrating changes in the enzymic activity of the human faecal flora induced by pectin and bran. The significance of these changes to the disposition of chemicals in the gut will be discussed.