The effect of Lactobacillus casei (LC) on the onset of diabetes in an insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus model, nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice, were examined. From the age of 4 weeks, female NOD mice were fed a diet of either standard laboratory chow (n = 12) or the same chow containing 0.05% weight heat-killed cells of LC (n = 12), and the onset of diabetes was thereafter recorded. The incidence of diabetes in the control group (10/12) was significantly higher than that in the LC-treated group (3/12) (p < 0.01). Pathological analysis in the LC-treated group revealed strong inhibition of the disappearance of insulin-secreting beta cells in Langerhans islets caused by autoimmune disease. The proportion of CD45R+ B-cells in the spleen was increased and that of CD8+ T-cells in spleen cells was decreased in the LC-treated group. Analysis of cytokine production revealed lower interferon-gamma production in the LC-treated group compared to the control group, while the interleukin (IL)-2 production was higher. The levels of IL-4, IL-5, IL-6 and IL-10 in the LC-treated group were somewhat higher than in the control group. Taken together, these findings clearly demonstrated that oral feeding of LC to NOD mice effectively inhibited the occurrence of diabetes and regulated the host immune response.