The effects of the dietary oligosaccharide raffinose on immune responses, with special reference to its anti-allergic functions, were examined in vivo. First, feeding a diet supplemented with 50 g raffinose/kg to BALB/c mice significantly (P<0·05) increased interleukin (IL) 12 secretion from isolated Peyer's patch (PP) cells in vitro compared with feeding control diet. When isolated PP cells were used as antigen-presenting cells (APC) for CD4+ T-splenocytes isolated from ovalbumin (OVA)-specific T-cell receptor transgenic (Tg) mice in the presence of OVA as antigen, significantly (P<0·05) higher levels of interferon-γ were observed in the cultures using APC from raffinose-fed mice than those cultures using APC from control mice. Second, the diet containing 50 g raffinose/kg or control diet was fed to OVA Tg mice, and subsequently, OVA was added to each diet to prime T cells in vivo. CD4+ T-cells from the mesenteric lymph nodes of the raffinose-fed mice secreted significantly (P<0·05) higher levels of IL-2 and significantly (P<0·05) lower levels of IL-4 following in vitro antigenic stimulation compared with those of the control mice. These present results suggest that feeding raffinose may suppress differentiation of naïve T-helper (Th) cells into Th2 cells in the mesenteric lymphoid nodes. Last, feeding raffinose suppressed rises of serum immunoglobulin E levels in the Tg mice treated with long-term ingestion of OVA. In conclusion, it is suggested that dietary raffinose suppresses serum immunoglobulin E response through suppression of Th2-type immune response against oral antigen in the lymphoid organs located in or near the intestine.