The cephalosporins

Mayo Clin Proc. 1999 Feb;74(2):187-95. doi: 10.4065/74.2.187.


The cephalosporins are a large group of related beta-lactam antimicrobial agents. Favorable attributes of the cephalosporins include low rates of toxicity, relatively broad spectrum of activity, and ease of administration. Various cephalosporins are effective for treatment of many conditions, including pneumonia, skin and soft tissue infections, bacteremia, and meningitis. Differences among the numerous cephalosporin antimicrobial agents are sometimes subtle; however, an understanding of these differences is essential for optimal use of these agents. As a result of widespread use of cephalosporins, bacterial resistance to these drugs is increasingly common. New, fourth-generation agents (such as cefepime) offer an alternative for the treatment of infections caused by some drug-resistant microorganisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Cephalosporins* / adverse effects
  • Cephalosporins* / chemistry
  • Cephalosporins* / classification
  • Cephalosporins* / pharmacology
  • Cephalosporins* / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Humans
  • Injections


  • Cephalosporins