The biological properties of dietary polyphenols are greatly dependent on their bioavailability that, in turn, is largely influenced by their degree of polymerization. The gut microbiota play a key role in modulating the production, bioavailability and, thus, the biological activities of phenolic metabolites, particularly after the intake of food containing high-molecular-weight polyphenols. In addition, evidence is emerging on the activity of dietary polyphenols on the modulation of the colonic microbial population composition or activity. However, although the great range of health-promoting activities of dietary polyphenols has been widely investigated, their effect on the modulation of the gut ecology and the two-way relationship "polyphenols ↔ microbiota" are still poorly understood. Only a few studies have examined the impact of dietary polyphenols on the human gut microbiota, and most were focused on single polyphenol molecules and selected bacterial populations. This review focuses on the reciprocal interactions between the gut microbiota and polyphenols, the mechanisms of action and the consequences of these interactions on human health. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.