The effect on various caecal bacteria and their metabolic activities of feeding diet containing transgalactosylated oligosaccharides (TOS) with or without Bifidobacterium breve (administered in the drinking water) was investigated in rats colonized with a human faecal microflora. TOS (5% w/w in diet) or TOS plus B. breve, given for 4 weeks, induced increases in caecal concentration of total anaerobic bacteria, lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, and decreases in numbers of enterobacteria. Caecal pH was significantly reduced by feeding TOS, as were the activities of beta-glucuronidase and nitrate reductase. In contrast, beta-glucosidase activity was increased in TOS-fed rats. Dietary TOS was also associated with decreased conversion, by caecal contents, of the dietary carcinogen 2-amino-3-methyl-3H-imidazo[4,5-f] quinoline (IQ) to its genotoxic 7-hydroxy derivative.