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Antimicrobial resistance is increasing among bacterial pathogens. In particular, organisms producing extended spectrum β-lactamase enzymes (ESBLs) and AmpC chromosomal β-lactamase enzymes are resistant to third generation cephalosporins and pose a formidable challenge in the management of seriously ill patients. Carbapenems are a class of broad-spectrum antibiotics with stability against ESBL and AmpC chromosomal β-lactamases. They are well tolerated by patients. This review will examine the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of two carbapenems imipenem and meropenem and discuss their clinical use in children. References are limited to the English language and extend back to 1980. Sources include computerized databases such as MEDLINE searched using PubMed, and bibliographies of recent articles and books. Approximately 50% of the articles initially reviewed are included in the bibliography. Carbapenems are efficacious in the treatment of a variety of bacterial infections including meningitis, pneumonia, intraabdominal infections, bone, joint and urinary tract infections. The broad spectrum activity and comparatively low toxicity of carbapenems make them valuable therapeutic agents in the treatment of seriously ill patients with bacterial infections. These agents should be used judiciously in order to minimize the risk for development of carbapenem-resistant pathogens.