The emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) Acinetobacter baumannii poses a therapeutic problem. The aim of this study was to assess the risk factors for nosocomial MDR-A. baumannii bloodstream infection (BSI) and the efficacy of ampicillin-sulbactam (A/S) in its treatment. Of 94 nosocomial A. baumannii BSI during the year 2000, 54% involved MDR strains, 81% of which were genetically related. Various risk factors for MDR-A. baumannii were found, of which intensive-care unit admission and prior aminoglycoside therapy were independently associated with MDR-A. baumannii acquisition on multivariate analysis. Of MDR-A. baumannii BSI cases, 65% received A/S and 35% inadequate antibiotic therapy, whereas of 43 non-MDR cases, 86% were treated according to susceptibility and 14% inappropriately with antibiotics to which these organisms were resistant. Crude mortality was comparable in the adequately treated groups. Respective mortalities among patients treated adequately and inadequately were 41.4 and 91.7% (p<0.001). Among severely ill patients, A/S therapy significantly decreased the risk of death (P=0.02 OR=7.64). MDR-A. baumannii has become highly endemic in our institution. A/S appears to be one of the last effective and safe empirical resorts for treatment of MDR A. baumannii BSI.