The translational functions of the bacterial ribosome are the target for a large number of antimicrobial agents. The 14- and 16-membered macrolides, the lincosamides, and the streptogramin B type antibiotics are thought to share certain inhibitory properties, based on both biochemical and genetic studies. We have shown previously that the 14-membered macrolides, like erythromycin, have an equivalent inhibitory effect on translation and the formation of the 50S ribosomal subunit in growing bacterial cells. To extend this work, we have now tested the 16-membered macrolides spiramycin and tylosin, the lincosamides lincomycin and clindamycin, and 3 streptogramin B compounds pristinamycin I(A), virginiamycin S, and CP37277. Each of these was a specific inhibitor of 50S subunit formation, in addition to having an inhibitory effect on translation. By contrast, two streptogramin A compounds, virginiamycin M1 and CP36926, as well as chloramphenicol, were effective inhibitors of translation without showing a specific effect on the assembly of the large ribosomal subunit. A combination of an A and B type streptogramin (virginiamycin M1 and pristinamycin I(A)) demonstrated a synergistic inhibition of protein synthesis without exhibiting a specific inhibition of 50S subunit formation. These results extend our observations on 50S assembly inhibition to the entire class of MLS(B) antibiotics and reinforce other suggestions concerning their common ribosome-binding site and inhibitory functions.