The influence of nonfermented milk containing L. acidophilus or L. bulgaricus on lactose utilization by lactose maldigesters was investigated. Nonfermented milks containing L. acidophilus or L. bulgaricus at 10(8) and 10(9) CFU/ml were prepared using 2% low-fat milk. Lactose maldigestion was monitored by measuring breath hydrogen at hourly intervals for 8 hr following consumption of 400 ml of each diet. Nonfermented milk containing L. acidophilus B at 10(8) CFU/ml were not effective in reducing breath hydrogen and symptoms. Nonfermented milk containing L. acidophilus B at 10(9) CFU/ml only slightly decreased breath hydrogen production; however, the symptoms were significantly improved. Nonfermented milks containing L. bulgaricus 449 at 10(8) and 10(9) CFU/ml were effective in reducing breath hydrogen and symptoms. The results for bulgaricus milk were all significant. In this study, L. acidophilus B and L. bulgaricus 449 were chosen because of their similar beta-galactosidase activity and bile sensitivity. L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus are both thermophilic lactobacilli and an active transport (permease) system is found in both species for lactose transport. The major factor affecting in vivo lactose digestion in this study appears to be the bacterial cell wall/membrane structures. That the cell wall/membrane structures of L. acidophilus are different from those of L. bulgaricus can be indirectly proven by the results of sonication time for maximum beta-galactosidase activity measurement. The results of this study indicate that L. bulgaricus is usually a better choice than L. acidophilus for manufacturing nonfermented milks for lactose maldigesters.