A series of 11 fluoroquinolone antibacterial agents, including 8 newly synthesized molecules and 3 reference compounds (pefloxacin, ciprofloxacin, and sparfloxacin), were tested for their MICs against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The intracellular accumulation of fluoroquinolones by these microorganisms was measured by centrifugation through silicone oil and a fluorescence assay. The minimal effective dose (MED) was determined for all agents in a supercoiling assay with E. coli DNA gyrase. The hydrophobicities of the quinolones were determined and expressed as the logarithm of the coefficient of distribution (log D) between 1-octanol and phosphate buffer (pH 7.2). No correlation was found between MICs and cell accumulation for the quinolones studied. A correlation was found between log D and accumulation by S. aureus (r = 0.71, n = 11), and an inverse correlation was found between log D and accumulation by E. coli (r = 0.73, n = 11) and P. aeruginosa (r = 0.64, n = 10). The correlation coefficients between MICs and MED for E. coli, which were 0.60, 0.64, and 0.74 (n = 11) for E. coli, P. aeruginosa, and S. aureus, respectively, rose to 0.85, 0.74, and 0.74 (n = 11) for the same microorganisms, respectively, when the accumulation of the drug by the cell was taken into account. It was concluded that the inhibitory activity against DNA gyrase remains the most important parameter for quinolone potency, but that intracellular accumulation must be taken into account, since, for a given organism, both parameters are under the control of the physicochemical properties of the quinolones.