Enoxacin decreases the metabolic clearance of the bronchodilator theophylline not only in severely ill patients, but also in patients with stable chronic obstructive airways disease. In this comparative study, significantly increased plasma theophylline concentrations were measured during co-administration of enoxacin (110.9%) and, to a lesser degree, also during co-administration of pefloxacin (19.6%) and ciprofloxacin (22.8%). Total body clearance of theophylline was significantly decreased by enoxacin (63.6%), ciprofloxacin (30.4%) and pefloxacin (29.4%). The pharmacokinetic parameters of theophylline did not change during co-administration of ofloxacin and nalidixic acid. There is growing evidence that the observed interaction is caused not by the parent drugs, but by the 4-oxo metabolite of enoxacin, pefloxacin and ciprofloxacin.