Strains of Escherichia coli (N = 124) and Proteus mirabilis (N = 29) harboring known beta-lactamases were analyzed as to their susceptibility to ampicillin, amoxicillin, and piperacillin alone and in combination with sulbactam, clavulanate, and tazobactam. With TEM 1-producing E. coli, a correlation between specific beta-lactamase activity and the MIC of piperacillin and ampicillin-sulbactam was observed. These strains also showed significant differences in susceptibilities to the various combinations, suggesting that, at least in strains resistant to one combination, several beta-lactam/beta-lactamase inhibitor combinations should be tested in the laboratory. All combinations tested enhanced the activity of the beta-lactam towards TEM 1-producing E. coli, piperacillin-tazobactam being the most active. The drugs were less active to OXA 1 enzymes; solely with piperacillin-tazobactam 90% of strains were within the therapeutic range of the drug. Sulbactam acted synergistically to chromosomally encoded beta-lactamases, whereas amoxicillin-clavulanate was inactive. Piperacillin and piperacillin-tazobactam inhibited all strains producing chromosomally encoded beta-lactamases at concentrations within the therapeutic range of the drugs. In contrast, TEM 2 of P. mirabilis was not sensitive to ampicillin-sulbactam, but to the other combinations; here again piperacillin-tazobactam was the most active.