The presence and activity of glycosidases in Irish bovine milk over three months of lactation was investigated. A low level of variation between animals was observed and the highest level of glycosidase activity was present in colostrum, decreasing through transitional milk production to minimal but constant levels in mature milk. N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase, alpha-L-fucosidase, alpha-galactosidase and N-acetyl-neuraminidase appear to be the most biologically relevant glycosidases in bovine milk. The elevated levels of enzymatic activity in colostrum suggests the milk glycosidases may play a role in the digestion of bovine milk glycans in the infant mammal, possibly acting as substitutes for bacterial glycosidases prior to colonisation by the gut microflora, which are involved in in vivo oligosaccharide metabolism in the lower gastrointestinal tract. (C) 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.