• Lactose-intolerant children manifest diminished or nonexistent intestinal lactase activity, resulting in flatulence, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. To assess the hydrolytic capability of lactase-containing tablets taken immediately before oral lactose challenge, we studied 18 children previously identified as being lactose intolerant and having no underlying organic gastrointestinal disease. Subjects had a mean (± SEM) age of 11.4 ± 3.4 years; 72% were male. At time of the study, lactase-containing tablets or placebo tablets were ingested (double-blind) immediately before drinking a solution of lactose. Breath samples were obtained for hydrogen analysis at 30-minute intervals during a 2-hour period, and clinical symptoms were monitored. In lactose-intolerant patients, hydrogen production was significantly greater following placebo (maximum hydrogen excretion, approximately 60 ppm) compared with lactase-containing tablets (maximum hydrogen excretion, 7 ppm). Increased hydrogen production was associated with clinical symptoms including abdominal pain (89% of subjects following placebo ingestion), bloating (83%), diarrhea (61%), and flatulence (44%). These results indicate, therefore, that coingestion of lactose and lactase-containing tablets significantly reduces both breath hydrogen excretion and clinical symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.