Translocation of bacteria across the intestinal barrier is important in the pathogenesis of systemic sepsis and multiple organ dysfunction syndromes. Inflammatory cytokines increase paracellular permeability that allows increased luminal bacteria to translocate across mucosal epithelium and further deteriorate the gut barrier. In order to reduce this risk, the prophylactic use of probiotics has been recently addressed. In this paper, we investigate the protective role toward tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-a induced non-pathogenic Escherichia coli translocation across Caco-2 monolayers of Lactobacillus strains. According to our experimental data, Lactobacillus plantarum L9 and Lactobacillus acidophilus LA have good capacities to adhere to Caco-2 cells. Addition of L. plantarum L9 and L. acidophilus LA to the enterocyte monolayer surface result in significant inhibition of E. coli adhesion and cell internalisation. However, L. plantarum L9 and L. acidophilus LA did not inhibit the growth of the non-pathogenic E. coli B5 after 24 h incubation. Exposure to TNF-a for 6 h caused a dramatic increase in E. coli B5 translocation across Caco-2 cells, which was uncoupled from increases in paracellular permeability. Pretreatment with L. plantarum L9 prevent TNF-a induced transcellular bacterial translocation and IL-8 production in Caco-2 cells. L. plantarum L9 also did not affect the integrity of the monolayers, as indicated by lactate dehydrogenase release, horseradish peroxidase permeability, and transepithelial electrical resistance. L. plantarum L9 showed the potential to protect enterocytes from an acute inflammatory response and therefore could be good potential prophylactic agents in counteracting bacterial translocation.