The study presented here compared the efficacy and safety of ertapenem and cefepime as initial treatment for adults with pneumonia acquired in skilled-care facilities or in hospital environments outside the intensive care unit (ICU). Non-ventilated patients developing pneumonia in hospital environments outside the ICU, in nursing homes, or in other skilled-care facilities were enrolled in this double-blind non-inferiority study, stratified by APACHE II score (<or=15 vs >15) and randomized (1:1) to receive cefepime (2 g every 12 h with optional metronidazole 500 mg every 12 h) or ertapenem (1 g daily). After 3 days of parenteral therapy, participants demonstrating clinical improvement could be switched to oral ciprofloxacin or another appropriate oral agent. Probable pathogens were identified in 162 (53.5%) of the 303 randomized participants. The most common pathogens were Enterobacteriaceae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Staphylococcus aureus, isolated from 59 (19.5%), 39 (12.9%), and 35 (11.6%) participants, respectively. At the test-of-cure assessment 7-14 days after completion of all study therapy, pneumonia had resolved or substantially improved in 89 (87.3%) of 102 clinically evaluable ertapenem recipients and 80 (86%) of 93 clinically evaluable cefepime recipients (95% confidence interval for the difference, -9.4 to 11.8%), fulfilling pre-specified criteria for statistical non-inferiority. The frequency and severity of drug-related adverse events were generally similar in both treatment groups. In this study population, ertapenem was as well-tolerated and efficacious as cefepime for the initial treatment of pneumonia acquired in skilled-care facilities or in hospital environments outside the ICU.