Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium phage type DT204 strains isolated from cattle and animal feed in Belgium were characterized for high-level fluoroquinolone resistance mechanisms [MICs to enrofloxacin (Enr) and ciprofloxacin (Cip), 64 and 32 microg/ml, respectively]. These strains isolated during the periods 1991-1994, and in 2000 were clonally related as shown by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Selected strains studied carried several mutations in the quinolone target genes, i.e., a double mutation in the quinolone resistance-determining region (QRDR) of gyrA leading to amino acid changes Ser83Ala and Asp87Asn, a single mutation in the QRDR of gyrB leading to amino acid change Ser464Phe, and a single mutation in the QRDR of parC leading to amino acid change Ser80Ile. Moreover, Western blot analysis showed overproduction of the AcrA periplasmic protein belonging to the AcrAB-ToIC efflux system. This suggested active efflux as additional resistance mechanism resulting in a multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR) phenotype, which was measurable by an increased level of resistance to the structurally unrelated antibiotic florfenicol in the absence of the specific floR resistance gene. The importance of the AcrAB-TolC efflux system in high-level fluoroquinolone resistance was further confirmed by inactivating the acrB gene coding for the multidrug transporter. This resulted in a 32-fold reduction of resistance level to Enr (MIC = 2 microg/ml) and actually in a susceptible phenotype according to clinical breakpoints. Thus, AcrB plays a major role in high-level fluoroquinolone resistance, even when multiple target gene mutations are present. The same effect was obtained using the recently identified efflux pump inhibitor (EPI) Phe-Arg-naphthylamide also termed MC207,110. Among several fluoroquinolones tested in combination with EPI, the MIC of Enr was reduced most significantly. Thus, using EPI together with fluoroquinolones such as Enr may be promising in combination therapy against high-level fluoroquinolone-resistant S. enterica serovar Typhimurium.