BACKGROUND: The effects of antibiotics on infant gut microbiota are unclear. We hypothesized that the use of common antibiotics results in long-term aberration in gut microbiota. METHODS: Antibiotic-naive infants were prospectively recruited when hospitalized because of a respiratory syncytial virus infection. Composition of fecal microbiota was compared between those receiving antibiotics during follow-up (prescribed at clinicians’ discretion because of complications such as otitis media) and those with no antibiotic exposure. Fecal sampling started on day 1, then continued at 2-day intervals during the hospital stay, and at 1, 3 and 6 months at home. RESULTS: One hundred and sixty-three fecal samples from 40 patients (median age 2.3 months at baseline; 22 exposed to antibiotics) were available for microbiota analyses. A single course of amoxicillin or macrolide resulted in aberration of infant microbiota characterized by variation in the abundance of bifidobacteria, enterobacteria and clostridia, lasting for several months. Recovery from the antibiotics was associated with an increase in clostridia. Occasionally, antibiotic use resulted in microbiota profiles associated with inflammatory conditions. CONCLUSIONS: Antibiotic use in infants modifies especially bifidobacterial levels. Further studies are warranted whether administration of bifidobacteria will provide health benefits by normalizing the microbiota in infants receiving antibiotics.