Antibiotic resistance is an increasing global problem. Surveillance studies are needed to monitor resistance development, to guide local empirical therapy, and to implement timely and adequate countermeasures. To achieve this, surveillance studies must have standardised methodologies, be longitudinal, and cover a sufficiently large and representative population. However, many fall short of these requirements that define good surveillance studies. Moreover, current efforts are dispersed among many, mostly small, initiatives with different objectives. These studies must be tailored to the various reservoirs of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as hospitalised patients, nursing homes, the community, animals and food. Two studies that could serve as examples of tailored programmes are the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (EARSS), which collects resistance data during the diagnosis of hospitalised patients, and the DANMAP programme, which collects data in the veterinary sector. As already noted by the WHO, genetic studies that include both the typing of isolates and the characterisation of resistance determinants are necessary to understand fully the spread and development of antibiotic resistance.