Emergence and dissemination of Enterobacteriaceae isolates harboring carbapenemases in various geographic regions represents a significant threat to the management of nosocomial infections. Enterobacteriaceae isolates from the SENTRY Antimicrobial Surveillance Program (2000-2004) demonstrating decreased susceptibility to imipenem and meropenem (minimum inhibitory concentration [MIC], > or =2 mg/L) were evaluated for the production of metallo-beta-lactamases and serine carbapenemases using disk approximation and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Carbapenemase-producing strains were epidemiologically typed by automated riboprinting and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to establish clonality. Among 37,557 Enterobacteriaceae (5 genus groups) evaluated, 119 (0.32%) had increased carbapenem MIC values, and a carbapenemase was identified in 51 (42.9%) of these strains. KPC-2 and KPC-3 were the most frequently occurring carbapenemases (24 isolates, 20.2%) in the United States and were detected in Klebsiella spp, Citrobacter spp., Enterobacter spp., and Serratia marcescens strains isolated in New York, Arkansas, and Virginia. SME-2-producing S. marcescens were isolated in the New York City area, Texas, and Ohio, while NMC-A was found in one E. cloacae strain from New York. In contrast, metallo-beta-lactamases were prevalent in Europe. IMP-1-producing E. cloacae (11 isolates) were detected in Turkey, while VIM-1-producing strains were found in Italy (Enterobacter spp.) and Greece (Klebsiella pneumoniae). Clonal dissemination of carbapenemase-producing strains was observed in several medical centers on both continents. The occurrence of carbapenemases in various Enterobacteriaceae remains rare but appears to be spreading geographically (not in Latin America), mainly with metallo-beta-lactamases being found in Mediterranean Europe and KPC enzymes in the New York City area.