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It is widely accepted that infection control, advanced diagnostics, and novel therapeutics are crucial to mitigate the impact of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The role of global, national, and regional surveillance systems as part of the response to the challenge posed by antibiotic resistance is not sufficiently highlighted. We provide an overview of contemporary surveillance programs, with emphasis on gram-negative bacteria.The WHO and public health agencies in Europe and the United States recently published comprehensive surveillance reports. These highlight the emergence and dissemination of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and other multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria. In Israel, public health action to control carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, especially Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase producing K. pneumoniae, has advanced together with a better understanding of its epidemiology. Surveillance models adapted to the requirements and capacities of each country are in development.Robust surveillance systems are essential to combat antibiotic resistance, and need to emphasize a ‘one health’ approach. Refinements in surveillance will come from advances in bioinformatics and genomics that permit the integration of global and local information about antibiotic consumption in humans and animals, molecular mechanisms of resistance, and bacterial genotyping.