Seventy-eight 4-year-old children, examined earlier for the presence of mutans streptococci at 4-month intervals from 15 months of age, were recalled for recording of dental caries and salivary sampling. The saliva samples were analysed for the presence of mutans streptococci, including the species Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus and lactobacilli. The results showed that the earlier the mutans streptococci had been detected in the children, the higher the caries experience. Eighty-nine percent of the children colonized at 2 years of age had experienced caries and had a mean dfs of 5.0 compared with 25% of the non-colonized 4-year-olds with a mean dfs of 0.3. S. mutans was the predominant species. S. sobrinus was usually found in combination with S. mutans, except in 2 children where S. sobrinus was the only species detected. More children with multiple species had higher numbers of total mutans streptococci and a tendency to higher caries prevalence than children with only S. mutans.