Betalactams, mainly when orally administered, may lead to intestinal flora modifications related to their spectrum of activity, rate of absorption and degradation. therefore it is important to investigate the possible influence of recently developed oral cephem derivatives on normal human microflora. We have investigated the impact on normal human intestinal flora in a 10-day course with cefetamet-pivoxil (CET, 500 mg BID) in comparison to cefixime (CFX, 400 mg qD) or cefuroxime axetil (CA, 250 mg BID) in 24 patients suffering from acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis. Stool specimens were taken before (day 0), at the end (day 10) and 14 days after treatment (day 24) and quali-quantitative microflora composition was determined with a detection limit of 10 CFU/g dry weight. Treatment with CET caused slight and non-significant modifications of normal intestinal flora. On the contrary CFX and CA significantly affect Enterobacteriaceae and clostridia with a concomitant increase in enterococci for CFX. With both CFX and CA there was a new appearance of Salmonella spp. as well as Clostridium difficile in 4 and 2 cases, respectively. Therefore CET seems to affect normal bowel flora minimally in comparison to other oral cephalosporins. This aspect might contribute to the low incidence of GI related side effects in patients treated with CEt for longer than 1 week.