Clinical resistance to penicillin in Streptococcus pneumoniae was first reported by researchers in Boston in 1965; subsequently, this phenomenon was reported from Australia (1967) and South Africa (1977). Since these early reports, penicillin resistance has been encountered with increasing frequency in strains of S. pneumoniae from around the world. In South Africa strains resistant to penicillin and chloramphenicol as well as multiresistant strains have been isolated. Similar patterns of resistance have been reported from Spain. Preliminary evidence points to a high prevalence of resistant pneumococci in Hungary, other countries of Eastern Europe, and some countries in other areas of Europe, notably France. In the United States most reports of resistant pneumococci come from Alaska and the South, but resistance is increasing in other states and in Canada. Pneumococcal resistance has also been described in Zambia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chile, and Brazil; information from other African, Asian, and South American countries is not available. The rising prevalence of penicillin-resistant pneumococci worldwide mandates selective susceptibility testing and epidemiological investigations during outbreaks.