The rapid spread of acquired metallo-beta-lactamases (MBLs) among major Gram-negative pathogens is a matter of particular concern worldwide and primarily in Europe, one of first continents where the emergence of acquired MBLs has been reported and possibly the geographical area where the increasing diversity of these enzymes and the number of bacterial species affected are most impressive. This spread has not been paralleled by accuracy/standardisation of detection methods, completeness of epidemiological knowledge or a clear understanding of what MBL production entails in terms of clinical impact, hospital infection control and antimicrobial chemotherapy. A number of European experts in the field met to review the current knowledge on this phenomenon, to point out open issues and to reinforce and relate to one another the existing activities set forth by research institutes, scientific societies and European Union-driven networks. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. and the International Society of Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.