The pharmacokinetics of 400 mg of ciprofloxacin given intravenously (i.v.) every 8 h (q8h) in severely septic adults was documented in a multidisciplinary, tertiary referral intensive care unit (ICU). Sixteen evaluable patients (three pharmacokinetic profiles) without renal dysfunction and with severe sepsis were studied. Ciprofloxacin at a dosage of 400 mg given i.v. q8h was administered over 1 h. Plasma samples for assay (high- pressure liquid chromatography) were taken at timed intervals (preinfusion, at the end of infusion, and at 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 h postinfusion) for first- dose kinetics (day 0 [DO]), D2, and between D6 and D8. All pharmacokinetic variables were calculated by noncompartmental methods. Standard intensive care was provided. Peak ciprofloxacin concentrations were as follows: DO, 6.01 ± 1.93 mg/liter; D2, 6.68 ± 2.01 mg/liter; and D6 to D8 6.45 ± 1.54 mg/liter. Trough levels were as follows: DO, 0.6 ± 0.5 mg/liter; D2, 0.7 ± 0.4 mg/liter; and D6 to D8 0.6 ± 0.4 mg/liter. The areas under the concentration curves (8 h) were as follows: DO, 13.3 ± 3.8 mg · h/liter; D2, 16.8 ± 5.4 mg · h/liter; and D6 to D8, 15.5 ± 4.7 mg · h/liter. No drug-related serious adverse events occurred. For 17 of 18 patients enrolled in the study, the causative organisms were susceptible to ciprofloxacin. One patient developed renal failure (non-drug related) after the administration of three doses of ciprofloxacin. One patient was infected with ciprofloxacin- resistant organisms on enrollment. Nine of 16 evaluable patients had clinical cures, and 8 had bacteriological cures. One patient developed a ciprofloxacin-resistant superinfection. In two patients the clinical course was indeterminate. Two bacteriological failures occurred. We conclude that in critically ill adults ciprofloxacin at a dosage of 400 mg given i.v. q8h is safe. Its pharmacokinetic profile provides bactericidal activity against most organisms encountered in an ICU. Except for some initial accumulation on D2, no further accumulation occurred in patients without renal failure, Ciprofloxacin should be administered i.v. at a dosage of 400 mg q8h for severe sepsis.