It has been presumed that aberrant immune response to intestinal microorganisms in genetically predisposed individuals may play a major role in the pathogenesis of the inflammatory bowel disease, and there is a good deal of evidence supporting this hypothesis. Commensal enteric bacteria probably play a central role in pathogenesis, providing continuous antigenic stimulation that causes chronic intestinal injury. A strong biologic rationale supports the use of probiotics and prebiotics for inflammatory bowel disease therapy. Many probiotic strains exhibit anti-inflammatory properties through their effects on different immune cells, pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion depression, and the induction of anti-inflammatory cytokines. There is very strong evidence supporting the use of multispecies probiotic VSL#3 for the prevention or recurrence of postoperative pouchitis in patients. For treatment of active ulcerative colitis, as well as for maintenance therapy, the clinical evidence of efficacy is strongest for VSL#3 and Escherichia coli Nissle 1917. Moreover, some prebiotics, such as germinated barley foodstuff, Psyllium or oligofructose-enriched inulin, might provide some benefit in patients with active ulcerative colitis or ulcerative colitis in remission. The results of clinical trials in the treatment of active Crohn's disease or the maintenance of its remission with probiotics and prebiotics are disappointing and do not support their use in this disease. The only exception is weak evidence of advantageous use of Saccharomyces boulardii concomitantly with medical therapy in maintenance treatment.