We evaluated the activities of meropenem, imipenem, temocillin, piperacillin, and ceftazidime by determination of the MICs for 66 genotypically characterized Burkholderia cepacia isolates obtained from the sputum of cystic fibrosis patients. In vitro synergy assays, as performed by the time-kill methodology, of two- and three-drug combinations of the beta-lactams with tobramycin, rifampin, and/or ciprofloxacin were also performed with 10 strains susceptible, intermediate, or resistant to fluoroquinolones. On the basis of the MICs, meropenem and temocillin were the most active beta-lactam agents, with MICs at which 90% of isolates are inhibited of 8 and 32 micrograms/ml, respectively. The addition of ciprofloxacin significantly enhanced the killing activities of piperacillin, imipenem, and meropenem against the 10 strains tested (P < 0.05). The best killing activity was obtained with the combination of meropenem and ciprofloxacin, with bactericidal activity of 3.31 +/- 0.36 log10 CFU/ml (P < 0.05). Compared to the activity of the two-drug beta-lactam-ciprofloxacin combination, the addition of rifampin or tobramycin did not significantly increase the killing activity (P > 0.05). The three-drug combinations (with or without ciprofloxacin) significantly enhanced the killing activities of piperacillin, imipenem, and meropenem relative to the activities of the beta-lactams used alone (P < 0.05). The combination beta-lactam-ciprofloxacin-tobramycin was the combination with the most consistently synergistic effect.