Lactic acid bacteria can affect the maturation of immune cells and their products not only in the gut but also on the systemic immune organs such as lymph nodes and spleen. In the present work, we studied the effects of oral administration of Lactobacillus acidophilus on the immune responses of BALB/c mice bearing transplanted breast tumour. Two groups of female inbred BALB/c mice, each containing nine mice as test and control, were used. The L. acidophilus ATCC4356 strain was inoculated in DeMan–Rogosa–Sharpe broth and cultivated for 24 h at 37°C. Then, it was collected by centrifugation, and was washed and suspended in PBS. Afterwards, 0·5 ml/d of this suspension, which contained 2·7 × 108 colony forming units/ml of bacteria, was orally administered to the mice by gavage, 14 d before tumour transplantation and 30 d after that with 3-d intervals. Similar to the test mice, the control mice received an equal volume of PBS. The results showed that oral administration of L. acidophilus increased the production of IL-12 (P < 0·05) and decreased the level of transforming growth factor β (P = 0·05) in the splenocyte culture. Moreover, the growth rate of tumour in the test mice decreased (P < 0·01), and the results of delayed-type hypersensitivity assay after 48 h were risen (P < 0·05) in comparison with the controls. Results suggest that daily consumption of L. acidophilus can improve the production of immunomodulatory cytokine IL-12 in the splenocyte culture, which was stimulated by tumour antigen in BALB/c mice bearing transplanted breast tumour. But further studies are needed to find out some other possible mechanisms of this effect.