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To characterise comprehensively the antibiotic susceptibility of Neisseria gonorrhoeae in Arkhangelsk, Russia, and to investigate whether the recommended treatment guidelines are updated and effective.The susceptibility of N gonorrhoeae isolates, cultured during June–November 2004 mainly from consecutive patients with gonorrhoea (n = 76) in Arkhangelsk, to penicillin G, ampicillin, cefixime, ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, azithromycin, kanamycin, spectinomycin and tetracycline was analysed using Etest. Nitrocefin discs were used for β-lactamase detection.The levels of intermediate susceptibility and resistance to the different antibiotics were as follows: penicillin G 76%, ampicillin 71%, cefixime 0%, ceftriaxone 3%, ciprofloxacin 17%, erythromycin 54%, azithromycin 14%, kanamycin 49%, spectinomycin 0% and tetracycline 92%. Of the isolates 55 (72%) were determined as multiresistant—that is, they showed intermediate susceptibility or resistance to three or more classes of antibiotics. However, none of the isolates were β-lactamase producing.In Arkhangelsk, and presumably in many other areas of Russia, penicillins, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, azithromycin, kanamycin and tetracycline should not be used in the treatment of gonorrhoea if the results of antibiotic susceptibility testing are not available. In Russia, optimised, standardised and quality-assured antibiotic susceptibility testing needs to be established in many laboratories. Subsequently, continuous local, regional and national surveillance of antibiotic susceptibility is crucial to detect the emergence of new resistance, monitor changing patterns of susceptibility and be able to update treatment recommendations on a regular basis.