The aim of this prospective double-blind study was to evaluate the value of long-term antibiotic prophylaxis using ciprofloxacin for the prevention of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) in 60 cirrhotic patients with low ascitic fluid protein levels (< 15 g/L). The patients were assigned to two groups: group I (n = 28) ciprofloxacin 750 mg per os once a week for 6 months, group II (n = 32) placebo. The two groups were similar for clinical and laboratory characteristics. Twelve patients developed an intercurrent disorder, and 10 patients died during the trial. There were no adverse effects in the treated group. There was a significant decrease in the incidence of SBP (3.6 vs. 22%) (P < .05) and duration of hospitalization (9.3 +/- 4.5 vs. 17.6 +/- 6.2 days) (P < .05) in the treated group as compared with the placebo group. The bacteriological study showed no acquired resistance to ciprofloxacin after 6 months' treatment. These results suggest that long-term preventive antibiotic prophylaxis based on the weekly administration of 750 mg of ciprofloxacin is effective in the prevention of SBP in cirrhotic patients.