Lactobacillus plantarum is a common inhabitant of mammalian gastrointestinal tracts. Strains of L. plantarum are also marketed as probiotics intended to confer beneficial health effects upon delivery to the human gut. To understand how L. plantarum adapts to its gut habitat, we used whole genome transcriptional profiling to characterize the transcriptome of strain WCFS1 during colonization of the caeca of adult germ-free C57Bl/6 J mice fed a standard low-fat rodent chow diet rich in complex plant polysaccharides or a prototypic Western diet high in simple sugars and fat. Lactobacillus plantarum colonized the digestive tracts of these animals to high levels, although L. plantarum was found in 10-fold higher amounts in the caeca of mice fed the standard chow. Metabolic reconstructions based on the transcriptional data sets revealed that genes involved in carbohydrate transport and metabolism form the principal functional group that is upregulated in vivo compared with exponential phase cells grown in three different culture media, and that a Western diet provides a more nutritionally restricted, growth limiting milieu for the microbe in the distal gut. A set of bacterial genes encoding cell surface-related functions were differentially regulated in both groups of mice. This set included downregulated genes required for the d-alanylation of lipoteichoic acids, extracellular structures of L. plantarum that mediate interactions with the host immune system. These results, obtained in a reductionist gnotobiotic mouse model of the gut ecosystem, provide insights about the niches (professions) of this lactic acid bacterium, and a context for systematically testing features that affect epithelial and immune cell responses to this organism in the digestive tract.