We previously demonstrated the efficacy of ceftriaxone (CRO), at 50 mg/kg of body weight every 12 h, against a highly penicillin-resistant (MIC, 4 micrograms/ml) Streptococcus pneumoniae strain with low-level resistance to CRO (MIC, 0.5 microgram/ml) in a leukopenic-mouse pneumonia model (P. Moine, E. Vallée, E. Azoulay-Dupuis, P. Bourget, J.-P. Bédos, J. Bauchet, and J.-J. Pocidalo, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 38:1953-1958, 1994). In the present study, we assessed the activity of CRO versus those of cefotaxime (CTX) and amoxicillin (AMO) against two highly penicillin- and cephalosporin-resistant S. pneumoniae strains (P40422 and P40984) (MICs of 2 and 8 for penicillin, 2 and 4 for AMO, and 4 and 8 for CRO or CTX, respectively). Against both strains, a greater than an 80% cumulative survival rate was observed with CRO at a dose of 100 or 200 mg/kg every 12 h (dose/MIC ratio, 25). With CTX, a high dosage of 400 mg/kg (dose/MIC ratio, 100 or 50) administered every 8 h (TID) was needed to protect 66 and 75% of the animals, respectively, with no statistically significant differences versus CRO. Against the P40422 strain, CRO (100 mg/kg) produced the greatest bactericidal effect, from the 8th to the 24th hour after a single injection (1.8-log-unit reduction over 24 h), and the fastest bacterial pulmonary clearance during treatment; with CTX, only multiple injections at a high dosage, i.e., 400 mg/kg TID, demonstrated a significant bactericidal effect. AMO in a high dosage, 400 mg/kg (dose/MIC ratio, 200) TID, showed good activity only against the P40422 strain. Despite the identical MICs of CTX and CRO, the longer time (3.6 to 4.6 h) that serum CRO concentrations remained above the MICs for the pathogens at a dose of 100 mg/kg resulted in greater efficacy versus CTX against highly penicillin- and cephalosporin-resistant S. pneumoniae strains.