- Over the past decade, resistance to antibiotics has emerged as a crisis of global proportion. Microbes resistant to many and even all clinically approved antibiotics are increasingly common and easily spread across continents. At the same time there are fewer new antibiotic drugs coming to market. We are reaching a point where we are no longer able to confidently treat a growing number of bacterial infections. The molecular mechanisms of drug resistance provide the essential knowledge on new drug development and clinical use. These mechanisms include enzyme catalyzed antibiotic modifications, bypass of antibiotic targets and active efflux of drugs from the cell. Understanding the chemical rationale and underpinnings of resistance is an essential component of our response to this clinical challenge.