A randomized, double-blind, multicentre study was conducted in adult patients with acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis (AECB), to compare the efficacy of a 5-day course of levofloxacin 500 mg once daily, with the standard 7-day regimen at the same dose. Five hundred and thirty-two patients from 48 centres in 10 countries were randomized to receive levofloxacin: 268 and 264 received the 5- and 7-day courses, respectively. The primary efficacy analysis was the clinical response at 7-10 days post-treatment in the per-protocol (PP) population. Clinical success rates in the primary PP analysis of 482 patients were 82.8% (197/238) for the 5-day group and 84.8% (207/244) for the 7-day group. The difference in success rates was -2.1% with a 95% CI of (-9.1 to 4.9%). The bacteriological response showed eradication rates of 82.1% (92/112) and 83.2% (84/101) in the 5- and 7-day groups, respectively. Both treatments were well tolerated. These results show that for patients with AECB levofloxacin 500 mg once daily for 5 days provides equivalent clinical and bacteriological success to the same dose given for 7 days irrespective of the patient's age, the frequency of exacerbations or the presence of co-existing cardiopulmonary or chronic obstructive airways disease.