In vitro properties of 19 antimicrobial agents were tested with 56 isolates of Klebsiella spp. The aminoglycosides and the new beta-lactam compounds cefotaxime and moxalactam were the most inhibitory drugs tested. Chloramphenicol, tetracycline, trimethoprim, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole were moderately active, whereas piperacillin, mezlocillin, and furazlocillin were ineffective against 25% of the isolates. Gentamicin was the only agent tested that was uniformly bactericidal in time-kill experiments with drug concentrations of four times the minimal inhibitory concentration. In combination studies with gentamicin, moxalactam and furazlocillin each increased the rate of bacterial killing for three of five isolates as compared with gentamicin alone, whereas chloramphenicol significantly retarded the rate of bacterial killing for the same number of strains. Furazlocillin was completely inactivated after 24 h of incubation with each of five selected strains. The inactivation of moxalactam, cefoxitin, and cephalothin was 36, 56, and 72%, respectively. In all instances in which these four agents were inactivated to levels below the minimal bactericidal concentration, there was accelerated growth after initial inhibition. However, regrowth also occurred in three instances in which drug levels were higher than the minimal bactericidal concentration. Retesting after drug exposure revealed a 4- to 32-fold rise in the minimal inhibitory concentration and minimal bactericidal concentration in two of these isolates.