BACKGROUND: Panipenem is a carbapenem antimicrobial agent which has been shown to have broad-spectrum activities against various aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. In this study, in vitro activities of panipenem against recent clinical isolates of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria were determined. METHODS: Aerobic and anaerobic bacteria were isolated in 2001 and in 2000-2001, respectively, from a tertiary-care hospital patients. Antimicrobial susceptibility was tested by the NCCLS agar dilution method. RESULTS: MIC90s of panipenem were:similar to those of imipenem for aerobic gram-positive cocci and Enterobacteriaceae; slightly lower than those of meropenem for gram-positive cocci, but slightly higher for Enterobacteriaceae; slightly higher than imipenem for A. baumannii, but similar for anaerobic bacteria. CONCLUSION: MIC90s of panipenem were similar to those of imipenem for aerobic and anaerobic bacterial isolates, which frequently involve respiratory, urinary, intraabdominal and wound infections. When imipenem breakpoints are applied to interpret panipenem susceptibilities, panipenem can be considered useful for the treatment of various infections, including nosocomially acquired ones.