Mutans streptococci (MS) are bacteria showing several cariogenic traits. This thesis is based on the concept that humans acquire MS directly or indirectly from each other. Previous research on the transmission of the bacteria in families has indicated that children acquire MS from their mothers. Just a few studies have included fathers. Diverging results have been presented about spouses acquiring MS from each other. The information on the distribution of MS types at a tooth surface level has been limited. The methods used for identification of MS types have been refined during the years making further studies in the field interesting. The present thesis deals primarily with the distribution of MS in families. Twenty-five Swedish families including a 3-year-old first-born child (I) and 11 corresponding Chinese families (II) were studied. The Swedish families were followed up 2-5 years later (III and IV). Study V deals with the colonization of MS on tooth sites in 13 young adults. MS were isolated from bacterial plaque samples obtained from the teeth of the subjects. Identification of MS types was carried out through DNA analysis methods, REA and RAPD respectively. MS were detected in 11 of the 25 Swedish children. The distribution of MS genotypes in these families indicated that the mothers and individuals outside the family were the sources of MS to the children (I). The distribution of MS genotypes in the Chinese families (II) pointed to the fact that the father played a more pronounced role as MS source compared to in the Swedish families. The intra-familial distribution of MS seemed to be different in the two groups of families with different cultural backgrounds. At the follow-up, genotypes of MS were found again among the MS positive children and their parents. This indicated that genotypes of MS persisted. Even though some alterations in the prevalence of MS genotypes were shown (III). Among the MS negative children some had acquired the bacteria, but most of them remained MS negative by the age of 5-8 years (IV). The father was in some few cases the MS source to the child in the Swedish families (III, IV). Few spouses acquired MS from each other. It is not clear to which extent the parents' salivary levels of MS, caregiver of the child, breast-feeding or antibiotic treatment influenced the acquisition of MS in the groups studied (I-IV). Finally it was shown that several different genotypes of MS colonized a particular tooth site simultaneously. Within each individual the same genotype occurred on two or more tooth sites. Genotypes persisted 4-7 months on their site. The colonization diverged inter-individually in terms of the number and the distribution of MS genotypes on the tooth sites (V).