Intestinal microbes provide multicellular hosts with nutrients and confer resistance to infection. The delicate balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory mechanisms, essential for gut immune homeostasis, is affected by the composition of the commensal microbial community. Regulatory T (Treg) cells expressing transcription factor Foxp3 play a key role in limiting inflammatory responses in the intestine 1 . Although specific members of the commensal microbial community have been found to potentiate the generation of anti-inflammatory Treg or pro-inflammatory Th17 cells 2- 6 , the molecular cues driving this process remain elusive. Considering the vital metabolic function afforded by commensal microorganisms, we hypothesized that their metabolic by-products are sensed by cells of the immune system and affect the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cells. We found that a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA), butyrate, produced by commensal microorganisms during starch fermentation, facilitated extrathymic generation of Treg cells. A boost in Treg cell numbers upon provision of butyrate was due to potentiation of extrathymic differentiation of Treg cells as the observed phenomenon was dependent upon intronic enhancer CNS1, essential for extrathymic, but dispensable for thymic Treg cell differentiation 1, 7 . In addition to butyrate, de novo Treg cell generation in the periphery was potentiated by propionate, another SCFA of microbial origin capable of HDAC inhibition, but not acetate, lacking this activity. Our results suggest that bacterial metabolites mediate communication between the commensal microbiota and the immune system, affecting the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory mechanisms.