Yogurts were prepared by using yogurt cultures combined to mixed cultures of bifidobacteria (Bifidobacterium animalis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium infantis, and Bifidobacterium longum) and by adding a preincubation step (1.5 h at 50 degrees C) with bifidobacteria to the conventional method of manufacture in order to produce oligosaccharides. The survival of bifidobacteria was drastically affected during storage of yogurts, except for products containing B. animalis, in which viable counts remained at >10(6) cfu/g after 28 d of storage at 4 degrees C. Oligosaccharides with a degree of polymerization of 3 were produced during the preincubation step (0.31 to 0.68%), and the amount in the final products varied according to the species of bifidobacteria inoculated during the preincubation step or the concentration of bifidobacteria used as second inoculum during the fermentation process. In fact, the higher concentration of oligosaccharides measured at the end of the fermentation process (0.72%) and the 28 d-storage period (0.67%) was obtained for yogurts containing B. infantis. However, yogurts containing B. breve showed higher beta-galactosidase activities and had lower lactose concentrations after the fermentation process and the storage period than the other yogurts. The use of a mixed cultures of bifidobacteria (B. animalis, B. infantis, or B. breve) thus allows the production of yogurts in which bifidobacteria can survive in relatively high cell numbers and contain appreciable amount of oligosaccharides.