Cranberry crude extracts, in various vehicles, have shown inhibitory effects on the formation of oral biofilms in vitro. The presence of proanthocyanidins (PAC) in cranberry extracts has been linked to biological activities against specific virulence attributes of Streptococcus mutans, e.g. the inhibition of glucosyltransferase (Gtf) activity. The aim of the present study was to determine the influence of a highly purified and chemically defined cranberry PAC fraction on S. mutans biofilm formation on saliva-coated hydroxyapatite surface, and on dental caries development in Sprague-Dawley rats. In addition, we examined the ability of specific PAC (ranging from low-molecular-weight monomers and dimers to high-molecular-weight oligomers/polymers) to inhibit GtfB activity and glycolytic pH drop by S. mutans cells, in an attempt to identify specific bioactive compounds. Topical applications (60-second exposure, twice daily) with PAC (1.5 mg/ml) during biofilm formation resulted in less biomass and fewer insoluble polysaccharides than the biofilms treated with vehicle control had (10% ethanol, v/v; p < 0.05). The incidence of smooth-surface caries in rats was significantly reduced by PAC treatment (twice daily), and resulted in less severe carious lesions compared to the vehicle control group (p < 0.05); the animals treated with PAC also showed significantly less caries severity on sulcal surfaces (p < 0.05). Furthermore, specific A-type PAC oligomers (dimers to dodecamers; 0.1 mg/ml) effectively diminished the synthesis of insoluble glucans by GtfB adsorbed on a saliva-coated hydroxyapatite surface, and also affected bacterial glycolysis. Our data show that cranberry PAC reduced the formation of biofilms by S. mutans in vitro and dental caries development in vivo, which may be attributed to the presence of specific bioactive A-type dimers and oligomers.