The effect of perorally (p.o) administered Lactobacillus casei and L. bulgaricus on macrophage activation in mice was studied. L. casei and L. bulgaricus were administered p.o. to mice for 8 days. The macrophage activation was measured on days 2, 3, 5, and 8 of lactobacillus administration by using biochemical and functional criteria. We measured the release of lysosomal hydrolases, the level of a nonlysosomal enzyme, and in vitro phagocytic activity of mouse peritoneal macrophages. All the assays were performed comparatively with mice inoculated with L. casei and L. bulgaricus (viable and nonviable cells) intraperitoneally (i.p.) at the same dose as for p.o. administration. The phagocytic activity was significantly higher in mice treated i.p. than in control mice. For p.o. administration, there was an increase only when L. casei was used. L. bulgaricus had little effect. No differences were found between viable and nonviable cells. The phagocytic function of the reticuloendothelial system was tested by the carbon clearance test, which showed that L. casei and L. bulgaricus accelerate the phagocytic function in mice treated p.o and i.p., from day 2 onward. These observations show that L. casei and L. bulgaricus given by p.o. administration are able to activate macrophages in mice and suggest that these bacteria, when passing through the intestinal tract, may be responsible for the enhanced host immune response. This fact is very significant because the diet includes fermented and manufactured products containing lactobacilli.