The beneficial effects of probiotic bacteria have been suggested for a century, but until now mostly anecdotal evidence has been available to support these beliefs.The main emphasis has been on development of new and more effective probiotics and only recently in validation of probiotic effects in clinical studies. This review is intended to explain the Nordic and European achievements and future plans in the development of new and more effective probiotic strains. The summary includes data on assessing new and novel methodologies for strain selection, including adhesion, colonization, potential for immune effects via cytokine release, use of gastrointestinal model systems and antigenotoxic properties. Also, first results and plans for the assessment of strains and validation of novel methodologies in pilot human trials are discussed. As a conclusion, the present state of art in the projects is given with plans on future research areas and new developments.