The present study aimed at examining oligosaccharides (OS) for potential stimulation of probiotic bacteria. Nineteen structurally well-defined candidate OS covering groups of β-glucosides, α-glucosides and α-galactosides with degree of polymerization 2-4 were prepared in >100 mg amounts by chemoenzymatic synthesis (i.e. reverse phosphorolysis or transglycosylation). Fourteen of the OS are not naturally occurring and five (β-d-glucosyl-fructose, β-d-glucosyl-xylitol, α-glucosyl-(1,4)-d-mannose, α-glucosyl-(1,4)-d-xylose; α-glucosyl-(1,4)-l-fucose) have recently been synthesized for the first time. These OS have not been previously tested for effects of bacterial growth and here the ability of all 19 OS to support growth of four gastrointestinal bacteria: three probiotic bacteria Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, and Lactobacillus acidophilus, and one commensal bacterium, Bacteroides vulgatus has been evaluated in monocultures. The disaccharides β-d-glucosyl-xylitol and β-d-glucosyl-(1,4)-xylose noticeably stimulated growth yields of L. acidophilus NCFM, and additionally, β-d-glucosyl-(1,4)-xylose stimulated B. longum Bl-05. α-Glucosyl-(1,4)-glucosamine and α-glucosyl-(1,4)-N-acetyl-glucosamine enhanced the growth rate of B. animalis subsp. lactis and B. longum Bl-05, whereas L. acidophilus NCFM and Bac. vulgatus did not grow on these OS. α-Galactosyl-(1,6)-α-galactosyl-(1,6)-glucose advanced the growth rate of B. animalis subsp. lactis and L. acidophilus NCFM. Thus several of the structurally well-defined OS supported growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This reflects a broad specificity of their sugar transporters for OS, including specificity for non-naturally occurring OS, hence showing promise for design of novel prebiotics.