Antimicrobial resistance may become a major problem in veterinary medicine as a consequence of the intensive use and misuse of antimicrobial drugs. Related problems are now arising in human medicine, such as the appearance of multi-resistant food-borne pathogens. Product characteristics, dose, treatment interval and duration of treatment influence the selection pressure for antimicrobial drug resistance. There are theoretical, experimental and clinical indications that the emergence of de novo resistance in a pathogenic population can be prevented by minimizing the time that suboptimal drug levels are present in the infected tissue compartment. Until recently, attention has been focused on target pathogens. However, it should be kept in mind that when antimicrobial drugs are used in an individual, resistance selection mainly affects the normal body flora. In the long term, this is at least equally important as resistance selection in the target pathogens, as the horizontal transfer of resistance genes converts almost all pathogenic bacteria into potential recipients for antimicrobial resistance. Other factors contributing to the epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance are the localization and size of the microbial population, and the age, immunity and contact intensity of the host. In livestock, dynamic herd-related resistance patterns have been observed in different animal species.