It has been shown that the gut microbiota regulates fat storage in the body and that disturbances in its composition can lead to the development of certain metabolic disease states. Bifidobacteria are found among the resident microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and their metabolic activities have been shown to beneficially influence the human host. It has been reported that they inhibit intestinal colonisation by pathogenic microorganisms and have anti-carcinogenic, immunostimulatory, and anti-diarrhoeal properties, as well as aiding in the alleviation of lactose intolerance and ability to lower serum cholesterol levels in humans. One particular health promoting property of bifidobacteria is bioactive fatty acid production, which when ingested, may confer health benefits on the host. A bioactive fatty acid produced by bifidobacteria is conjugated linoleic acid (CIA), of which cis-9, trans-11 (c9, t11) and trans-10, cis-12 (t10, c12) CIA are the main biologically active CLA isomers. The production of CLA by Bifidobacterium can also have a positive effect on the immune system of the human host leading to numerous health benefits. This is an example of the metabolic activities of an ingested bacterium being beneficial to the host, rather than the direct interaction of the bacterium with the host. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.