A national collaborative study involving the laboratories of 17 Australian hospitals examined the in vitro activity of loracarbef, cefaclor, cephalexin, amoxycillin and amoxycillin/clavulanate against 2661 recently isolated common bacterial pathogens. Loracarbef was the most active agent against Escherichia coli (MIC90 = 1 mg/l) and had activity comparable to other agents against Klebsiella pneumoniae and Proteus mirabilis. Like the oral cephalosporins, it had no activity against species of Enterobacter and Serratia. β-lactamase-producing Staphylococcus aureus and Haemophilus influenzae were moderately sensitive to loracarbef (MIC90 = 8 mg/l for both species). Streptococcus pneumoniae was moderately sensitive to loracarbef (MIC90 = 2 mg/l) but strains which were insensitive to penicillin were often highly resistant.