Background: Constipation is a frustrating symptom affecting 3% of children worldwide. Randomised controlled trials show that both polyethylene glycol and lactulose are effective in increasing defecation frequency in children with constipation. However, in 30-50%, these children reported abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea, nausea and bad taste of the medication. Two recent studies have shown that the fermented dairy product containing Bifidobacterium lactis strain DN-173 010 is effective in increasing stool frequency in constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome patients with a defecation frequency < 3/week and in constipated women with a defecation frequency < 3/week. Goal of this study is to determine whether this fermented dairy product is effective in the treatment of constipated children with a defecation frequency < 3/week. Methods/design: It is a two nation (The Netherlands and Poland) double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised multicentre trial in which 160 constipated children (age 3-16 years) with a defecation frequency <3/week will be randomly allocated to consume a fermented dairy product containing Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010 or a control product, twice a day, for 3 weeks. During the study all children are instructed to try to defecate on the toilet for 5-10 minutes after each meal (3 times a day) and daily complete a standardized bowel diary. Primary endpoint is stool frequency. Secondary endpoints are stool consistency, faecal incontinence frequency, pain during defecation, digestive symptoms (abdominal pain, flatulence), adverse effects (nausea, diarrhoea, bad taste) and intake of rescue medication (Bisacodyl). Rate of success and rate of responders are also evaluated, with success defined as ≥ 3 bowel movements per week and ≤1 faecal incontinence episode over the last 2 weeks of product consumption and responder defined as a subject reporting a stool frequency ≥ 3 on the last week of product consumption. To demonstrate that the success percentage in the intervention group will be 35% and the success percentage in the control group (acidified milk without ferments, toilet training, bowel diary) will be 15%, with alpha 0.05 and power 80%, a total sample size of 160 patients was calculated. Conclusion: This study is aimed to show that the fermented dairy product containing Bifidobacterium lactis strain DN-173 010 is effective in increasing stool frequency after 3 weeks of product consumption in children with functional constipation and a defecation frequency < 3/ week. © 2009 Tabbers et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.