The in vitro activity of Ro 23-6240 (AM833), 6,8-difluoro-1-(2-fluoroethyl)-1,4-dihydro-4-oxo-7(4-methyl-1-piper azinyl) quinolone-3-carboxylic acid, was compared with those of norfloxacin, enoxacin, ofloxacin, and ciprofloxacin. Ro 23-6240 inhibited the majority of Enterobacteriaceae isolates at a concentration of less than or equal to 0.5 microgram/ml. It was especially active against Shigella sp., Salmonella sp., Escherichia coli, and Yersinia enterocolitica, with an MIC for 90% of the strains of less than or equal to 0.12 microgram/ml. The MIC for 90% of the strains was 1 microgram/ml for Serratia marcescens and 8 micrograms/ml for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Staphylococcus aureus isolates, including methicillin-resistant strains, were inhibited by less than or equal to 1 microgram/ml. Streptococcal and anaerobic species were inhibited by 8 to 16 micrograms/ml. Ro 23-6240 inhibited beta-lactamase-producing bacteria resistant to broad-spectrum cephalosporins. The overall activity of Ro 23-6240 was similar to those of enoxacin, norfloxacin, and ofloxacin, but less than that of ciprofloxacin. The frequency of spontaneous resistance was low, although resistant bacteria could be isolated by repeated subculture. The activity of Ro 23-6240 was decreased in the presence of magnesium at concentrations similar to those present in urine.