The aim of the study was to determine whether routine probiotic supplementation (RPS) with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) or Lactobacillus acidophilus +Lactobacillus bifidum is associated with reduced risk of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC)≥Stage II in preterm neonates born at ≤32 weeks’ gestation. We conducted a retrospective cohort study on the effect of probiotic supplementation in very low birth weight infants in our neonatal unit by comparing two periods: before and after supplementation. The incidence of NEC≥Stage II, late-onset sepsis and all-cause mortality was compared for an equal period ‘before’ (Period I) and ‘after’ (Period II) RPS with LGG or L. acidophillus+L. bifidum. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to adjust for relevant confounders. The study population was composed of 261 neonates (Period I v. II: 134 v. 127) with comparable gestation duration and birth weights. In <32 weeks, we observed a significant reduction in NEC≥Stage II (11·3 v. 4·8 %), late-onset sepsis (16 v. 10·5 %) and mortality (19·4 v. 2·3 %). The benefits in neonates aged ≤27 weeks did not reach statistical significance. RPS with LGG or L. acidophillus+L. bifidum is associated with a reduced risk of NEC≥Stage II, late-onset sepsis and mortality in preterm neonates born at ≤32 weeks’ gestation.