Measuring and monitoring antibiotic use in hospitals is believed to be an important component of the strategies available to antimicrobial stewardship programs to address acquired antimicrobial resistance. Recent efforts to organize large numbers of hospitals into networks allow for interhospital comparisons of a variety of healthcare processes and outcomes, a process often called 'benchmarking'. For comparisons of antimicrobial use to be valid, usage figures must be risk-adjusted to account for differences in patient mix and hospital characteristics. The purpose of this review is to describe recent methods to benchmark antimicrobial drug use and to critically assess the potential advantages and the remaining challenges. While many methodological challenges remain, and the clinical outcomes resulting from benchmarking programs have yet to be determined, recent developments suggest that benchmarking antimicrobial drug use will become an important component of antimicrobial stewardship program activities.