The inhibition of acid production from dental plaque and mutans streptococci by epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), one of the green tea catechins, was examined. The effect of EGCg solution on dental plaque pH was investigated. Subjects rinsed their mouths with 2 mg/ml EGCg solution and then, after 30-min interval, rinsed their mouths with 10% sucrose. Plaque samples were collected at appropriate times and the pH was measured. The pH values of plaque samples from 15 volunteers were significantly higher after treatment with catechin than after treatment with water. EGCg inhibited pH fall when cariogenic bacteria grown in medium with or without sucrose were incubated with sugar. In medium without sucrose, cultured cells were killed time-dependently by EGCg treatment. However, EGCg did not kill cells cultured in medium containing sucrose. Also, EGCg did not kill oral streptococci adhering to a saliva-coated hydroxyapatite disk. EGCg and epicatechin gallate inhibited lactate dehydrogenase activity much more efficiently than epigallocatechin, epicatechin, catechin or gallocatechin. These results suggest that EGCg is effective in reducing acid production in dental plaque and mutans streptococci.