The treatment of respiratory infections is often empiric, necessitating the use of agents .with a broad range of antimicrobial activity. The fluoroquinolones, having activity against common respiratory pathogens, fit this description. New fluoroquinolones have been developed in an attempt to improve the in vitro activity against a wide variety of respiratory tract pathogens. The objective of the study is to compare in vitro activity of newest fluoroquinolones, gatifloxacin and moxifloxacin, with levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin using three major respiratory pathogens, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis. Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of four fluoroquinolones were tested against 93 S pneumoniae, 62 H influenzae and 60 M catarrhalis, ie 215 isolates by the E-test method. National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards (NCCLS)-approved interpretive criteria were used throughout. All isolates were susceptible to the tested fluoro-quinolones. Ninety per cent of S pneumoniae strains were inhibited by ciprofloxacin at concentrations of 2 mg/L. The gatifloxacin and moxifloxacin MICs were lower than the ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin MICs against S pneumoniae. In contrast to S pneumoniae, in vitro activities of gatifloxacin and moxifloxacin offered no apparent advantages over ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin for H influenzae and M catarrhalis.