In inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), it is known that besides genetic and environmental factors (e.g. diet, drugs, stress), the microbiota play an important role in the pathogenesis. Patients with IBD have an altered microbiota (dysbiosis) and therefore, probiotics, defined as ‘live micro-organisms that when administered in adequate amounts can confer a health benefit on the host’, have been suggested as nutritional supplements to restore these imbalances. The best response on probiotics among the different types of IBD appears to be in the case of ulcerative colitis. Although probiotics show promise in IBD in both clinical and animal studies, further mechanistic studies are necessary to optimize the use of probiotics as supporting therapy in IBD. Murine models of experimental colitis have been used for decades to study this pathology, and these models have been proven useful to search for new therapeutic approaches. The purpose of this review is to summarize probiotic–host interaction studies in murine models of experimental colitis and to evaluate how these models can further help in understanding these complex interactions. Unraveling the molecular mechanisms behind the beneficial effects will assist in better and possibly more efficient probiotic formulations.