The sensitivity of elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu) from different species of bacteria to the EF-Tu-binding antibiotics efrotomycin, pulvomycin and MDL 62879 was tested by measuring the effect of these antibiotics on cell-free protein synthesis systems. EF-Tu from four different Gram-negative species was sensitive to all three antibiotics. Among Gram-positive bacteria, EF-Tu of Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis was resistant to efrotomycin and less sensitive to pulvomycin than EF-Tu of Gram-negative bacteria. EF-Tus from streptococci were significantly less sensitive than EF-Tus from Gram-negative bacteria to both efrotomycin and pulvomycin. All of the EF-Tus were sensitive to MDL 62879. The same sensitivity pattern emerged from GDP exchange assays, performed with partially purified EF-Tu from different bacterial species and pure Escherichia coli EF-Ts. These results suggest that the site of action of MDL 62879 is more conserved among bacterial species than those of efrotomycin and pulvomycin. Heterogeneity of EF-Tus from different bacterial species was also reflected in differences in their apparent molecular masses estimated by SDS-PAGE. EF-Tus from the Gram-positive species had higher molecular masses than those from all but one of the Gram-negative species.