A pooled analysis of two double-blind, multicentre, Phase III studies compared oral telithromycin 800 mg once-daily for 5 days with penicillin V 500 mg three-times-daily or clarithromycin 250 mg twice-daily for 10 days in the treatment of Streptococcus pyogenes (group A β-haemolytic streptococcus; GABHS) tonsillopharyngitis. Patients aged ≥ 13 years with acute GABHS tonsillopharyngitis were randomised to receive telithromycin (n = 430), penicillin (n = 197) or clarithromycin (n = 231). Clinical isolates of S. pyogenes (n = 590) obtained from throat swab samples on study entry were tested for their in-vitro susceptibility to telithromycin, clarithromycin and azithromycin. Telithromycin demonstrated in-vitro activity against the clinical isolates of S. pyogenes (MIC50/90 0.03/0.06 mg/L) higher than clarithromycin or azithromycin (MIC50/90 0.06/0.06 mg/L and 0.12/0.25 mg/L, respectively), including erythromycin-resistant strains. At the post-therapy/test of cure (TOC) visit (days 16–23), satisfactory bacteriological outcome was demonstrated for 88.3% (234/265) and 88.6% (225/254) of telithromycin- and comparator-treated patients, respectively (per-protocol population). Overall, GABHS eradication rates were 88.7% (235/265) for telithromycin and 89.0% (226/254) for comparators. The clinical cure rates at the post-therapy/TOC visit were 93.6% (248/265) and 90.9% (220/242) for telithromycin and pooled comparators, respectively. Telithromycin was generally well-tolerated. Most adverse events considered to be possibly related to study medication were gastrointestinal and of mild intensity. Discontinuations as a result of adverse events were few in both treatment groups. In conclusion, telithromycin 800 mg once-daily for 5 days was as effective as penicillin V or clarithromycin for 10 days in the treatment of GABHS tonsillopharyngitis.