The quinolones are broad-spectrum antibacterial agents that have a novel mechanism of action. As synthetic compounds, these agents have been developed extensively to optimize antimicrobial activity, pharmacokinetic properties, and drug safety. Although earlier quinolones were effective only in the genitourinary and gastrointestinal tracts and only had activity against aerobic gram-negative bacteria, newer quinolones have wider potential applications and a broader spectrum of activity. Some of the newer quinolones will have a role in the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia and intra-abdominal infections. Ciprofloxacin remains the most potent quinolone against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Among the quinolones, important differences exist in renal and hepatic elimination and dose-adjustment regimens. Although there are many Food and Drug Administration-approved indications for some of the newer quinolones, the quinolones are the drug of choice for only a few infections. Quinolone-resistant bacteria are being increasingly identified and emerge under selective pressure created by extensive use.