Ertapenem (MK-0826, L-749,345) is a 1-β-methyl carbapenem with a long serum half-life. Its in vitro activity was determined by broth microdilution against 3,478 bacteria from 12 centers in Europe and Australia, with imipenem, cefepime, ceftriaxone, and piperacillin-tazobactam used as comparators. Ertapenem was the most active agent tested against members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, with MICs at which 90% of isolates are inhibited (MIC90s) of ≤1 μg/ml for all species. Ertapenem also was more active than imipenem against fastidious gram-negative bacteria and Moraxella spp.; on the other hand, ertapenem was slightly less active than imipenem against streptococci, methicillin-susceptible staphylococci, and anaerobes, but its MIC90s for these groups remained ≤0.5 μg/ml. Acinetobacter spp. and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were also much less susceptible to ertapenem than imipenem, and most Enterococcus faecalis strains were resistant. Ertapenem resistance, based on a provisional NCCLS MIC breakpoint of ≥16 μg/ml, was seen in only 3 of 1,611 strains of the family Enterobacteriaceae tested, all of them Enterobacter aerogenes. Resistance was also seen in 2 of 135 anaerobes, comprising 1 Bacteroides fragilis strain and 1 Clostridium difficile strain. Ertapenem breakpoints for streptococci have not been established, but an unofficial susceptibility breakpoint of ≤2 μg/ml was adopted for clinical trials to generate corresponding clinical response data for isolates for which MICs were as high as 2 μg/ml. Of 234 Streptococcus pneumoniae strains tested, 2 required ertapenem MICs of 2 μg/ml and one required an MIC of 4 μg/ml, among 67 non-Streptococcus pyogenes, non-Streptococcus pneumoniae streptococci, single isolates required ertapenem MICs of 2 and 16 μg/ml. These streptococci also had diminished susceptibilities to other β-lactams, including imipenem as well as ertapenem. The Etest and disk diffusion gave susceptibility test results in good agreement with those of the broth microdilution method for ertapenem.