To identify the optimal pharmacodynamic exposures of meropenem, imipenem, and cefepime, and the emergence of resistance in vivo for Pseudomonas aeruginosa overexpressing MexA-MexB-OprM efflux pumps, we used the murine thigh model. Mice were challenged with P. aeruginosa isolates: PAO1 (K767 wild type), K767+ (MexA-MexB-OprM efflux mutant), and DeltaK767 (knockout strain). Efficacy (Delta log colony-forming unit [CFU]) was determined at various exposures of %T > MIC at both standard (10(5) CFU/thigh) and high (10(7) CFU/thigh) inoculums. At 10(5) CFU/thigh, meropenem and imipenem produced a maximal activity against PAO1 (-2.82, -1.88) and K767+ (-2.24, -2.68) at 40%T > MIC; cefepime at 70%T > MIC produced a comparable kill (-2.74 and -2.19, respectively). Similar magnitudes of kill were observed at the 10(7) inocula. Except for DeltaK767 with cefepime, no development of resistance emerged at various %T > MIC. All agents exhibited reduced activity against DeltaK767. DeltaK767 cefepime-resistant strains were isolated up to 100%T > MIC. The overexpression of MexA-MexB-OprM efflux pumps did not result in the loss of efficacy of the antibiotics tested regardless of the amount of bacterial inocula; however, their presence also did not lead to increased selection for resistance. The effects of efflux mechanisms on beta-lactam agents in vivo warrant further research.