Because of the lack of data that convincingly show immunomodulatory properties of lactic acid bacteria in humans, a study was performed in which healthy volunteers were divided into two groups and given a fermented milk product supplemented with Lactobacillus acidophilus strain La1 or Bifidobacterium bifidum strain Bb 12 for 3 wk. Blood was sampled throughout the study to assess changes in lymphocyte subsets or leukocyte phagocytic activity following consumption of the fermented products. No modifications of lymphocyte subpopulations were detected. In contrast, phagocytosis of Escherichia coli sp. in vitro was enhanced after the administration of both fermented products. The increment in phagocytosis was coincident with fecal colonization by the lactic acid bacteria and persisted for 6 wk after ingestion of the fermented products. By this time, the fecal lactobacilli and bifidobacteria had returned to concentrations prior to consumption. Nonspecific, anti-infective mechanisms of defense can be enhanced by the ingestion of specific lactic acid bacteria strains. These strains can be used as nutritional supplements to improve the immune function of particular age groups, i.e., the neonate or the elderly, for which these functions are diminished.