This position paper addresses the role of systemic antibiotics in the treatment of periodontal disease. Topical antibiotic therapy is not discussed here. The paper was prepared by the Research, Science and Therapy Committee of the American Academy of Periodontology. The document consists of three sections: 1) concept of antibiotic periodontal therapy; 2) efficacy of antibiotic periodontal therapy; and 3) practical aspects of antibiotic periodontal therapy. The conclusions drawn in this paper represent the position of the American Academy of Periodontology and are intended for the information of the dental profession.