Acidity is an environmental condition commonly encountered by lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and fermented foods. In the present study, 22 strains of Bifidobacterium were screened for acid tolerance in artificial gastric juice (AGJ, pH 3·0) and fermented milk. AGJ tolerance was found to be strain-specific, with a pronounced variation among the strains. Several strains with a high survival rate in AGJ that belonged to Bifid. longum, Bifid. breve and Bifid. adolescentis were selected. Among them, only strain BL1 of Bifid longum was found to possess a high survival rate in fermented milk during refrigerated storage. Strain BL1 exhibited a survival rate of more than 25% in AGJ at pH 3·0 for 2 h and maintained a viable cfu level of more than 108 per gram of product in fermented milk (pH 4·6) under refrigerated conditions for 2 weeks. The acid tolerance of strain BL1 was found to depend on the final growth pH (<4·5). Rapid loss of acid tolerance was observed when the cells were shifted from acid to neutral conditions by addition of NaOH. Strain BL1 cells were able to maintain much higher intracellular pH under acid conditions, in comparison with those of AGJ sensitive mutant (BL1-S) or cells that lost acid tolerance following pH shifting from acid to neutral conditions. These results suggested that a cytoplasmic pH homeostasis system may function in the acid tolerance response in this strain.