Microbial ecosystems cover the surface of the human body and it is becoming increasingly clear that our modern environment has profound effects on microbial composition and diversity. A dysbiotic gut microbiota has been associated with allergic diseases and asthma in cross-sectional and observational studies. In an attempt to restore this dysbiosis, probiotics have been evaluated in randomized controlled trials. Here, we review treatment and primary prevention studies, recent meta-analyses, and discuss the current understanding of the role of probiotics in this context. Many meta-analyses have shown a moderate benefit of probiotics for eczema prevention, whereas there is less evidence of a benefit for other allergic manifestations. Because of very low quality evidence and heterogeneity between studies, specific advice on the most effective regimens cannot yet be given – not even for eczema prevention. To be able to adopt results into specific recommendations, international expert organizations stress the need for well-designed studies. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.