Antibiotics are known to induce the release of bioactive endotoxin (LPS) from gram-negative bacterial cells. Because varying data have been published on the influence of quinolone antibiotics on LPS liberation, we studied the effect of ciprofloxacin on a culture of Escherichia coli by determining bacterial killing and free LPS concentrations in comparison with imipenem and ceftazidime. LPS levels were measured by three different methods, namely (1) the Limulus amebocyte lysate test, (2) an ELISA method based on capture of LPS by monoclonal antibodies, and (3) indirect determination by measuring the ability of antibiotic-induced LPS to trigger TNFalpha release from a monocytic cell line. With both the Limulus and ELISA tests, a low endotoxin-releasing activity of ciprofloxacin was confirmed. In contrast to previous studies, this LPS also had low bioactivity in terms of TNFalpha induction. Limulus LPS determinations correlated more precisely with LPS bioactivity than did ELISA values, an observation which underlines the crucial role of LPS determination methods in studies of antibiotic-induced LPS release.