Antimicrobial compounds were screened in vitro in Trypticase soy broth for antimicrobial activity against a virulent strain of Salmonella enteritidis. Of the several compounds tested, polymyxin B showed the strongest inhibition in vitro, preventing growth at a concentration of less than or equal to 10 micrograms/ml. Polymyxin B administered in the drinking water was effective in vivo for preventing infections in 1-day-old chickens but did not remove established infections in 1-week-old chickens. It was found that trimethoprim, which was not active in vitro, prevented colonization and removed existing infections in 1-day-old chickens when it was administered together with polymyxin B sulfate. Enrichment cultures in which selenite-cystine and tetrathionate broth media were used showed that chickens given a combination of 100 micrograms of polymyxin B sulfate per ml and 250 micrograms of trimethoprim per ml 24 h prior to oral inoculation with 10(8) to 10(9) CFU were negative for S. enteritidis after 7 days. Established infections (10(5) to 10(6) CFU/g of feces) in 1-week-old chickens were eliminated by treatment with the polymyxin-trimethoprim system. This antimicrobial agent treatment may be useful for preventing colonization in poultry and for eliminating S. enteritidis from infected flocks.