1. The aminoglycoside antibiotics are 50 years old. Their success and continuing use can be attributed to various factors including rapid concentration-dependent bactericidal effect, synergism with beta-lactam antibiotics, clinical effectiveness, a low rate of true resistance and low cost. 2. The aminoglycosides remain drugs of choice in many circumstances including septicaemia, other serious infections due to Gram negative bacilli, and bacterial endocarditis. 3. Nephrotoxicity and ototoxicity have been the main drawbacks clinically for the aminoglycosides. 4. There has been an evolution in dosing strategies largely aimed at reducing toxicity. Therapeutic drug monitoring has been used extensively to assist dosing, and target concentrations have been advocated, such as peak concentrations of between 6 and 10 mg l-1 and through concentrations of < 2 mg l-1 for gentamicin, tobramycin and netilmicin. 5. Recently there has been a minor revolution in the approach to aminoglycoside dosing, with a change to larger doses, given less frequently. In its most convenient form this is 'Once-daily aminoglycoside dosing'. It offers the hope of better efficacy, less toxicity, and easier administration and monitoring. 6. This article summarises the background of aminoglycoside usage, leading up to the recent changes in dosing strategy.