Because cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) antibiotic levels fail to predict either clinical success or relapse in the treatment of bacterial meningitis, we examined simultaneous antibiotic concentrations in the blood, brain, and CSF of control rabbits and of animals with experimental pneumococcal meningitis. Cefamandole pharmacokinetics were analyzed in detail and compared with those of cephalothin, ampicillin, penicillin G, and tobramycin. After 4 h of continuous intravenous infusion, cefamandole reached concentrations in both brain and CSF in excess of the minimal bactericidal concentration for the test organism and compared favorably with ampicillin and penicillin in achieving bacteriological cure. Cephalothin levels in the central nervous system remained undetectable in both control and infected animals during this time. Tobramycin concentrations were measurable in the CSF, but not in brain tissue in association with an inflammatory stimulus.