In the face of rising rates of antibacterial resistance, many responses are being pursued in parallel, including 'non-traditional' antibacterial agents (agents that are not small-molecule drugs and/or do not act by directly targeting bacterial components necessary for bacterial growth). In this Perspective, we argue that the distinction between traditional and non-traditional agents has only limited relevance for regulatory purposes. Rather, most agents in both categories can and should be developed using standard measures of clinical efficacy demonstrated with non-inferiority or superiority trial designs according to existing regulatory frameworks. There may, however, be products with non-traditional goals focused on population-level benefits that would benefit from extension of current paradigms. Discussion of such potential paradigms should be undertaken by the development community.