Extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs) are usually plasmid-mediated enzymes that confer resistance to a broad range of beta-lactams. Initially, resistance to third-generation cephalosporins in Gram-negative rods was mainly due to the dissemination of TEM- and SHV-type ESBLs, which are point mutants of the classic TEM and SHV enzymes with extended substrate specificity. During the last ten years, CTX-M-type ESBLs have become increasingly predominant, but less frequent class A beta-lactamases have also been described, including SFO, BES, BEL, TLA, GES, PER and VEB types. While several of these latter are rarely identified, or are very localised, others are becoming locally prevalent, or are increasingly isolated worldwide. In addition, mutations can extend the spectrum of some OXA-type beta-lactamases to include expanded-spectrum cephalosporins, and several of these enzymes are considered to be ESBLs.