After the introduction of antibiotics in the mid-20th century, clinicians soon witnessed clinical failures secondary to bacterial resistance. Despite scientists' efforts to synthesize more potent antibiotics during the last five decades, bacterial resistance continues to evolve, in large part because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. The treatment of several pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae and vancomycin-resistant enterococci, is problematic. New solutions are needed to preserve the activity of our current antibiotic armamentarium, to lower the overall risk of bacterial resistance and to successfully treat patients with resistant bacterial infections. Options include: development of new antibiotics to treat resistant organisms; vaccination to prevent infections; and improved use of antibiotics. Because bacteria will eventually develop means to avoid being killed by antibiotics, judicious use of antibiotics by all clinicians is imperative. Appropriate antibiotic use involves selection of a "targeted spectrum" antibiotic, as well as an appropriate dose and duration.