In spite of its long history, public consciousness of probiotics has shifted dramatically in recent years. This is due to a number of factors, including an increased concern about the potential generation of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains due to widespread antibacterial use, and also to the spreading realization that one`s health can be, not simply maintained, but actually improved with proper nutrition. Combined, these factors have stimulated a surge in probiotic research in the past decade, resulting in increasingly refined studies. Indeed, after Elie Metchnikov first printed his work suggesting a positive correlation between human longevity and the consumption of fermented milk, information on probiotics is leaving the realm of the anecdotal as recent, double-blind, placebo controlled randomized tests support beneficial probiotic activity. Concurrently, more is being learned about their activities in vivo. While much work remains to be done before a detailed understanding of probiotics can be achieved, there is mounting evidence that probiotics, when used in proper conditions, may indeed have prophylactic or preventative effects on a broad array of human and animal diseases. This article briefly surveys probiotic history and discusses recent research with a special emphasis on lactic acid bacteria probiotics. Finally, it discusses the inherent difficulties of their study and suggestions for standards for future work.