Clinical isolates of Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Moraxella catarrhalis were gathered from 19 different clinical laboratories throughout the continental United States. The in vitro activities of 12 orally administered antimicrobial agents were compared by broth microdilution tests with 3,151 bacterial isolates. Among 890 H. influenzae isolates, 30% were capable of producing beta-lactamase enzymes (12 to 41% in different medical centers). Most of the 619 beta-lactamase-negative H. influenzae strains were susceptible to ampicillicin (MIC, < or = 1.0 micrograms/ml): 5 strains were intermediate in susceptibility (MIC, 2.0 micrograms/ml) and 1 strain was ampilicillin resistant (MIC, 4.0 micrograms/ml). Ninety-two percent of 698 M. catarrhalis strains were beta-lactamase positive. Of 799 S. pneumoniae isolates, 15% were intermediate in susceptibility to penicillin and 7% were resistant to penicillin. The prevalence of penicillin-susceptible pneumococci in different institutions ranged from 63 to 95%. Only 1% of 764 S. pyogenes isolates were resistant to the macrolides, but 5% of S. pneumoniae isolates were macrolide resistant. Only 71% of 58 penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae isolates were erythromycin susceptible, whereas 97% of the 622 penicillin-susceptible strains were erythromycin susceptible. Penicillin-resistant pneumococci were also relatively resistant to the cephalosporins and amoxicillin. Penicillin-susceptible pneumococci were susceptible to amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (MIC for 90% of isolates tested [MIC90], < or = 0.12/0.06 microgram/ml), cefixime (MIC90, 0.25 microgram/ml), cefuroxime axetil (MIC90, < or = 0.5 microgram/ml), cefprozil (MIC90, < or = 0.5 micrograms/ml), cefaclor (MIC90, 0.5 microgram/ml), and loracarbef (MIC90, 1.0 microgram/ml). Most strains of the other species remained susceptible to the study drugs other than amoxicillin.