Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus are thought to cause the majority of lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). However, other bacterial pathogens may contribute to the pathophysiology of lung disease. Here, obligate anaerobes were identified in a cross-sectional study, and cell numbers and antibiotic susceptibilities of facultative and obligate anaerobes from 114 sputum samples from nine children and 36 adults with CF were determined. Furthermore, in 12 CF patients, we investigated whether conventional intravenous antibiotic therapy, administered during acute exacerbations, would affect the numbers of obligate anaerobes. Fifteen genera of obligate anaerobes were identified in 91% of the CF patients. Cell numbers (mean: 2.2 x 10(7) +/- standard deviation 6.9 x 10(7) CFU/mL of sputum sample) were comparable to those of P. aeruginosa and S. aureus. Staphylococcus saccharolyticus and Peptostreptococcus prevotii were most prevalent. Infection with P. aeruginosa did not increase the likelihood that obligate anaerobes are present in sputum specimens. Single obligate anaerobic species persisted for up to 11 months in sputum plugs in vivo. Patients with and without obligate anaerobes in sputum specimens did not differ in lung function. Intravenous therapy directed against P. aeruginosa during acute exacerbations increased lung function, but did not reduce the numbers of obligate anaerobes. Obligate anaerobic species differed widely in their patterns of resistance against meropenem, piperacillin-tazobactam, clindamycin, metronidazole and ceftazidime. In 58% of patients with acute exacerbations, obligate anaerobes were detected that were resistant to the antibiotics used for treatment. Antibiotic therapy, optimized to target anaerobes in addition to P. aeruginosa, may improve the management of CF lung disease.