Commensal bacteria have been shown to modulate the host mucosal immune system. Here, we report that oral treatment of BALB/c mice with components from the commensal, Parabacteroides distasonis, significantly reduces the severity of intestinal inflammation in murine models of acute and chronic colitis induced by dextran sulphate sodium (DSS). The membranous fraction of P. distasonis (mPd) prevented DSS-induced increases in several proinflammatory cytokines, increased mPd-specific serum antibodies and stabilized the intestinal microbial ecology. The anti-colitic effect of oral mPd was not observed in severe combined immunodeficient mice and probably involved induction of specific antibody responses and stabilization of the intestinal microbiota. Our results suggest that specific bacterial components derived from the commensal bacterium, P. distasonis, may be useful in the development of new therapeutic strategies for chronic inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease.