The objective of the present study was to evaluate the impact of a regular consumption of yogurt on the composition and metabolism of the human intestinal microbiota. Adult subjects were selected on the basis of daily food records and divided into two groups: yogurt consumers (at least 200 g yogurt consumed per d, n 30); non-consumers (no yogurt, n 21). Their faecal microbiota was analysed using molecular methods (in situ hybridisation and PCR amplification combined with separation by denaturing gel electrophoresis) and its metabolic characteristics were assessed by measuring glycosidase, β-glucuronidase and reductase activities and profiling SCFA, neutral sterols and bile acids. The yogurt starter Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus (identity confirmed by 16S rRNA sequencing) was detected in 73 % of faecal samples from fermented milk consumers v. 28 % from non-consumers (P = 0·003). In yogurt consumers, the level of Enterobacteriaceae was significantly lower (P = 0·006) and β-galactosidase activity was significantly increased (P = 0·048). In addition, within this group, β-galactosidase activity and the Bifidobacterium population were both positively correlated with the amount of fermented milk ingested (r 0·66, P < 0·0001 and r 0·43, P = 0·018, respectively). Apart from these effects, which can be considered beneficial to the host, no other major differences could be detected regarding the composition and metabolic activity of intestinal microbiota.