The antimicrobial susceptibilities of 16,441 gonococcal isolates from Seattle-King County were determined for ceftriaxone, cefoxitin, penicillin G, and tetracycline. From 1985 to 1989, ceftriaxone, in combination with doxycycline, was increasingly used for treatment of gonorrhea, and by 1989, it was used as therapy for >80% of cases in Seattle-King County. MICs of ceftriaxone correlated significantly (P < 0.001) with those of the other beta-lactam antibiotics included in this study. Geometric mean MICs of penicillin G for isolates that did not produce β-lactamase increased from 1985 to 1991. The geometric mean MICs of cefoxitin, ceftriaxone, and tetracycline began to decline in 1987 but increased in 1990 and 1991. The percentage of strains with decreased susceptibility to ceftriaxone (MIC, 0.06 to 0.25 μg/ml) rose from 0.3% in 1985 to 5.3% in 1987 but subsequently declined steadily to 2.6% in 1991, despite increased use of ceftriaxone as routine therapy for gonorrhea. Changes in patterns of antimicrobial susceptibility may be related not only to antimicrobial selection pressures but also to less well understood population shifts among Neisseria gonorrhoeae strains within a community.