The antibacterial activity of the metabolites of ciprofloxacin (1-cyclopropyl-6-fluoro-1,4-dihydro-4-oxo-7-(1-piperazinyl)-3- quinolinecarboxylic acid, Bay o 9867; designated tradename: Ciprobay) M1, M2, M3 and M4 was tested with the agar dilution method against various Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria in comparison to ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin and nalidixic acid. The results show that M1 had only a weak antibacterial activity comparable to nalidixic acid, whereas M2 was significantly less active. M3, which is one of the main metabolites in urine has a broad antibacterial activity but was less active than ciprofloxacin or norfloxacin. M4 which is a very minor metabolite of ciprofloxacin was the most active compound with minimal inhibitory concentrations for strains of Escherichia coli or Klebsiella pneumoniae in the range of norfloxacin, whereas with staphylococci the antibacterial activity was comparable to ciprofloxacin. Possible interactions between ciprofloxacin and the metabolites in the bioassay system, using Escherichia coli (ICB 4004) were studied, to explain discrepancies between the microbiological assay and the HPLC-method reported in the literature. It could be demonstrated that under conditions where the concentration of ciprofloxacin exceeds or equals the concentration of the metabolites or mixtures of them no increase in the inhibition zones for ciprofloxacin could be observed, which would have led to false high values for ciprofloxacin in the bioassay system. From these data we conclude that the antibacterial activity of the metabolites in biological specimens, e.g. urine, does not influence the bioassay results.