Secretory IgA in the saliva is essential for protection from mucosally transmitted pathogens and maintaining homeostasis at mucosal surfaces of the oral cavity. Expression of submandibular gland polymeric Ig receptor (pIgR) is essential for IgA secretion. In the present study, we investigated the influence of indigestible carbohydrates on IgA production in the salivary gland and saliva. Five-week-old rats were fed a fibre-free diet (control), or a diet with 5 % (w/w) fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS) or a combination of 2·5 % (w/w) polydextrose (PDX) and 2·5 % (w/w) lactitol for 21-d. IgA concentrations in the caecal digesta, submandibular gland tissue, and saliva in the FOS and PDX+lactitol diet groups were significantly higher than those in the control group (P< 0·05). The increase in IgA in the submandibular gland tissue was confirmed using immunohistochemical analysis. However, the IgA concentrations of serum did not differ between the FOS or PDX+lactitol groups and the control group (P= 0·5). In the FOS and PDX+lactitol groups, the pIgR mRNA (pIgR/β-actin) expression level in the submandibular gland tissue was significantly higher than that in the control group (P< 0·05). The present study suggests that indigestible carbohydrates play an important role in the increase in IgA concentrations in the submandibular gland tissue, saliva, and caecal digesta.