In the present double-blind, randomised, parallel intervention study, the effects of the intake of galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) on the gut microbiota of twelve healthy adult subjects (aged 18–45 years with a normal BMI (18–25 kg/m2)) receiving amoxicillin (AMX) treatment were determined. All the subjects were treated with AMX (375 mg; three times per d) for 5 d and given either GOS (n 6) or placebo (maltodextrin, n 6) (2·5 g; three times per d) during and 7 d after AMX treatment. Faecal samples were collected twice before starting the treatment and on days 2, 5, 8, 12, 19 and 26. Due to AMX treatment, a decrease in the abundance of Bifidobacterium spp., an overgrowth of Enterobacteriaceae, and a disruption of the metabolic activity of the microbiota (increase in succinate, monosaccharide and oligosaccharide levels in the faecal samples) were observed in both groups (P< 0·05). Positive effects of GOS intake were observed on the levels of bifidobacteria, although not found to be significant. Data revealed that the levels of bifidobacteria were higher upon GOS intake than upon placebo intake, especially after AMX treatment. The activity of bifidobacteria and subsequent cross-feeding activity of the microbiota upon GOS intake compared with those upon placebo intake were reflected by the significant increase in butyrate levels (P< 0·05) in the faecal samples after AMX treatment. Despite the small number of subjects, our findings confirm previous results obtained in vitro, namely that GOS intake supports the recovery of the beneficial bifidobacteria and, indirectly, the production of butyrate after AMX treatment.