Stenotrophomonas maltophilia has emerged as a significant pathogen in compromised patients, causing infections which are difficult to treat. Clinical isolates from patients in the Tucson area were tested against single and combination antibiotics using three testing methods. Ticarcillin/clavulanate, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole and trovafloxacin provided comparable inhibitory activity, in vitro. Ciprofloxacin, imipenem and ticarcillin were active less often. Agreements between disk diffusion and broth microdilution results were poor for ciprofloxacin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole; however, agreement was > or = 90% for the other drugs tested. Major or very major errors were observed with ticarcillin, ticarcillin/clavulanate, and trovafloxacin. The addition of aztreonam to ticarcillin/clavulanate enhanced the activity compared to ticarcillin/clavulanate alone using the double-disk diffusion, broth microdilution (checkerboard), and time-kill testing methods. Trovafloxacin exhibited good activity by all three methods, with bactericidal activity at > or = 2x MIC. These results indicate that the newer fluoroquinolones or the triple combination of ticarcillin/clavulanate plus aztreonam may be potential options for treatment of infection caused by S. maltophilia in patients who are intolerant to or fail trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole therapy.