An antimicrobial resistance surveillance study in Japan is presented representing the second year (Phase II) results from 22 medical centers. Each participant laboratory tested (Etest, AB BIODISK, Solna, Sweden) 100 organisms, 10 strains each from 10 species groups including Escherichia coli, Klebsiella spp., Enterobacter spp., Citrobacter spp., indole-positive Proteae, Serratia spp., Acinetobacter spp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and oxacillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus and coagulase-negative staphylococci. Generally only modest variations in the activity of the studied broad-spectrum beta-lactams was observed compared to the study a year before. Specifically, extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) rates in E. coli increased (2.9 to 8.1%), but the ESBL rate in Klebsiella spp. fell (8.6 to 5.0%). Overall the resistance to the beta-lactams varied from a 4.7% decrease (ceftazidime as a consequence of a modified staphylococcal breakpoint criteria) to a 1.0% increase (cefepime, not significant). The rank order of spectrums in 1998 only changed for cefoperazone-sulbactam (6.1% resistance) that was active against more strains than cefpirome (6.8% resistance). The overall spectrum rank order for the 1998 Japan sample (% resistance) was: cefepime (3.2%) > imipenem (4.1%) > cefoperazone-sulbactam (6.1%) > cefpirome (6.8%) > ceftazidime (8.4%) > piperacillin (19.9%). As with a similar study in 1997, imipenem-resistant isolates of P. aeruginosa and Serratia spp. were discovered with metalloenzymes, usually found in the same medical centers. These results demonstrate the continued in vitro activity and potential sustained clinical efficacy of several broad-spectrum beta-lactams in Japan. Rapid emergence of new or novel resistance were not wide spread using a precise quantitative MIC system. Continued surveillance in this nation would be prudent to document the activity of this clinically valuable class of safe, antimicrobial agents.