OBJECTIVE: To determine the contemporary antibiotic susceptibility profile of vertically acquired group B streptococcal isolates. METHODS: Susceptibility to ampicillin, penicillin G, erythromycin, clindamycin, cefazolin, and gentamicin was assessed by two methods, minimal inhibitory concentration and disc diffusion. RESULTS: The susceptibility profiles of 119 colonizing and eight invasive strains of group B streptococcus isolated from January 1996 to September 1997 at two hospitals in Birmingham, Alabama-University of Alabama at Birmingham and Cooper Green-were studied. Minimal inhibitory concentration determinations indicated that all colonizing strains were susceptible or moderately susceptible to ampicillin and penicillin G. Resistance was noted by at least one strain to each of the other antibiotics; all were resistant to gentamicin, whereas 27 (21%) were resistant to erythromycin, five (4%) to clindamycin, and one (1%) to cefazolin. All of the eight invasive strains were susceptible or moderately susceptible to ampicillin, penicillin G, clindamycin, and cefazolin; one (13%) was resistant to erythromycin, and all were resistant to gentamicin. Disc diffusion results generally were concordant with minimal inhibitory concentration results, although by disc diffusion fewer isolates were classified as susceptible, and more as moderately susceptible, to ampicillin and penicillin G than by minimal inhibitory concentration. CONCLUSION: Universal susceptibility of group B streptococcus to members of the penicillin family supports the continued use of penicillin G or ampicillin for early onset neonatal group B streptococcal disease prevention. For patients allergic to beta-lactam agents, clindamycin (4% resistance) may be a better alternative than erythromycin (21% resistance).