The postantibiotic effect of imipenem on Pseudomonas aeruginosa was studied at different inocula using one ATCC strain and four clinical isolates. The postantibiotic effect was measured using two different methods: viable counts and bioluminescence assay of intracellular bacterial ATP. The postantibiotic effect could be demonstrated with both methods (viable counts 1-2 h, ATP assay 3-5 h) for all strains at an inoculum of 10(6) CFU/ml. When the inoculum was raised to 10(8) CFU/ml, no postantibiotic effect could be observed with either method using routine growth conditions. This disappearance of the postantibiotic effect coincided with a loss of bactericidal effect of imipenem when high inocula were used. Improved oxygenation of the cultures restored the bactericidal and postantibiotic effects of imipenem at high inocula.