Clavulanic acid and a penicillanic acid sulfone, when combined individually with piperacillin, synergistically inhibited various Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacteroides fragilis. Clavulanic acid and piperacillin synergistically inhibited 91 of 170 (55%) isolates tested. Synergy was most often found against piperacillin-resistant bacteria: 65 of 69 isolates (94%). Although the penicillanic acid sulfone acted synergistically with piperacillin, inhibiting 62 of 170 strains (33%), the concentration of clavulanic acid required for synergy generally was less than that of penicillanic acid sulfone. Combination of piperacillin and cefotaxime, an inhibitor of type 1 beta-lactamases, rarely was synergistic and was antagonistic for several species. The combination of piperacillin with potent beta-lactamase inhibitors made piperacillin active against those isolates of Escherichia coli and Klebsiella and Bacteroides species, as well as selected other species, that are resistant to piperacillin by virtue of their production of beta-lactamases.