Subinhibitory concentrations of clavulanate caused premature induction of stationary-phase autolysis, sensitization to lysozyme, and reductions in the MICs of deoxycholate and penicillin for Streptococcus pneumoniae. In the range of clavulanate concentrations producing these effects, this beta-lactam compound was selectively bound to PBP 3. Cell walls isolated from pneumococci grown in the presence of clavulanate showed increased sensitivity to the hydrolytic action of purified pneumococcal autolysin in vitro. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis of the peptidoglycan isolated from the clavulanate-grown cells showed major qualitative and quantitative changes in stem peptide composition, the most striking feature of which was the accumulation of peptide species carrying intact D-alanyl-D-alanine residues at the carboxy termini. The altered biological and biochemical properties of the clavulanate-grown pneumococci appear to be the consequences of suppressed D,D-carboxypeptidase activity.