Aims: Probiotic milk-based formulations were spray-dried with various combinations of prebiotic substances in an effort to generate synbiotic powder products.Methods and Results: To examine the effect of growth phase and inclusion of a prebiotic substance in the feed media on probiotic viability during spray-drying, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG was spray-dried in lag, early log and stationary phases of growth in reconstituted skim milk (RSM) (200% w/v) or RSM (10% w/v), polydextrose (PD) (10% w/v) mixture at an outlet temperature of 85-90degreesC. Stationary phase cultures survived best(31-50%) in both feed media and were the most stable during powder storage at 4-37degreesC over 8 weeks, with 30-140-fold reductions in cell viability at 37degreesC, in RSM and PD/RSM powders, respectively. Stationary phase Lact. rhamnosus GG was subsequently spray-dried in the presence of the prebiotic inulin in the feed media, composed of RSM (10% w/v) and mulin (10% w/v), and survival following spray-drying was of the order 7.1-43%, while viability losses of 20 000-90 000-fold occurred in these powders after 8 weeks' storage at 37degreesC. Survival of the Lactobacillus culture after spray-drying in powders produced using PD (20% w/v) or inulin (20% w/v) as the feed media was only 0.011-0.45%. To compare different probiotic lactobacilli during spray-drying, stationary phase Lact. rhamnosus E800 and Lact. salivarius UCC 500 were spray-dried using the same parameters as for Lact. rhamnosus GG in either RSM (20% w/v) or RSM (10% w/v) and PD (10% w/v). Lact. rhamnosus E800 experienced approx. 25-41% survival, yielding powders containing similar to10(9) CFU g(-1), while Lact. salivarius UCC 500 performed poorly, experiencing over 99% loss in viability during spray-drying in both feed media. In addition to the superior survival of Lact. rhamnosus GG after spray-drying, both strains experienced higher viability losses (570-700-fold) during storage at 37degreesC over 8 weeks compared with Lact. rhamnosus GG.Conclusions: Stationary phase cultures were most suitable for the spray-drying process, while lag phase was most susceptible. The presence of the prebiotics PD and inulin did not enhance viability during spray-drying or powder storage.Significance and Impact of the study: High viability (similar to10(9) CFU g(-1)) powders containing probiotic lactobacilli in combination with prebiotics were developed, which may be useful as functional food ingredients for the manufacture of probiotic foods.