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Clindamycin concentrations in gingival crevicular fluid and in blood were determined over a 7-h period and were related to the minimal inhibitory concentrations of this agent for 340 bacterial strains isolated from diseased periodontal sites. The clindamycin levels after administration of single 300-mg oral doses were measured in gingival crevicular fluids by using an agar diffusion bioassay. Minimal inhibitory concentrations were determined by agar dilution techniques for 30 species of periodontal bacteria. With the exception of Eikenella corrodens and Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, most of the bacteria were inhibited by a concentration of 1.0 microgram of clindamycin per ml or less. The peak concentrations in crevicular fluid (2.0 +/- 0.3 microgram/ml) and in blood (1.9 +/- 0.3 micrograms/ml) were approximately the same. However, crevicular fluid levels of 1.0 micrograms/ml and above were present for up to 6 h, whereas blood concentrations dropped below 1.0 micrograms/ml within 2 h after administration. Based on its minimal inhibitory concentrations, clindamycin at crevicular fluid levels of 1.0 micrograms/ml or above should inhibit most bacteria associated with diseased periodontal sites.