The absence of a dedicated transport for disaccharides in the intestine implicates that the metabolic use of dietary lactose relies on its prior hydrolysis at the intestinal brush border. Consequently, lactose in blood or urine has mostly been associated with specific cases in which the gastrointestinal barrier is damaged. On the other hand, lactose appears in the blood of lactating women and has been detected in the blood and urine of healthy men, indicating that the presence of lactose in the circulation of healthy subjects is not incompatible with normal physiology. In this cross-over study we have characterised the postprandial kinetics of lactose, and its major constituent, galactose, in the serum of fourteen healthy men who consumed a unique dose of 800 g milk or yogurt. Genetic testing for lactase persistence and microbiota profiling of the subjects were also performed. Data revealed that lactose does appear in serum after dairy intake, although with delayed kinetics compared with galactose. Median serum concentrations of approximately 0·02 mmol/l lactose and approximately 0·2 mmol/l galactose were observed after the ingestion of milk and yogurt respectively. The serum concentrations of lactose were inversely correlated with the concentrations of galactose, and the variability observed between the subjects’ responses could not be explained by the presence of the lactase persistence allele. Finally, lactose levels have been associated with the abundance of the Veillonella genus in faecal microbiota. The measurement of systemic lactose following dietary intake could provide information about lactose metabolism and nutrient transport processes under normal or pathological conditions.