The clinical isolate Escherichia coli PEY was highly resistant to amoxycillin, ticarcillin and piperacillin associated to beta-lactamase inhibitors such as clavulanic acid, sulbactam, tazobactam and brobactam but susceptible to cephalosporins, aztreonam and imipenem. The susceptibility to mecillinam indicated that this phenotype was not related to hyperproduction of the TEM-1 beta-lactamase. E. coli PEY produced a new plasmid-mediated inhibitor-resistant beta-lactamase of pI 5.2, which was named IRT-4. The determination of the amino acid sequence (Swiss-Prot accession number, P00810) of the purified protein indicated that IRT-4 differed from TEM-1 by two substitutions: Leu for Met-69 (ABL numbering) and Asp for Asn-276. A Met-69-Leu variant of TEM-1, obtained by site-directed mutagenesis, has been described as resistant to clavulanate. The Asp for Asn-276 substitution has not been reported previously. The side chains of Asp-276 and Arg-244 were expected to interact. Determinations of 50% inhibitory concentrations of beta-lactamase inhibitors and substrate profile of IRT-4 suggested that such an ionic bond was implicated in the alteration of the mechanistic process of TEM-1 beta-lactamase.