An antimicrobial agent may be used for years before a gene expressing resistance to it emerges in a strain of bacteria somewhere. Progeny of that strain, or of others to which the gene is transferred, may then disseminate preferentially through global networks of bacterial populations on people or animals treated with that agent or with other agents as the gene becomes linked to genes expressing resistance to them. Over 100 resistance genes-varying in their frequency of emergence, vectors, linkages, and pathways-have thus emerged, reemerged, converged, and disseminated irregularly through the world's bacterial ecosystems over the last 60 years to reach infecting strains and block treatment of infection. We may delay emergence by using agents less and retard dissemination by good hygiene, infection control measures, and avoidance of agents that select for resistance genes in contiguous populations. Local monitoring and management of resistance appear essential because of the intricacies of tracing and targeting the problems at each place and because national or global surveillance and strategy develop from local information and understanding.