Surface temperature measured by an infrared temperature-scanning thermometer was used to evaluate disease severity and predict imminent death in a murine model of pneumococcal pneumonia. We showed that a decrease in temperature was associated with increasing severity of disease and concomitant histological changes and also that a temperature of 30°C or less was a predictor of death. Furthermore, viable bacterial counts in the lungs of mice euthanized at a temperature of ≤ 30°C were not significantly different from those seen in the lungs of mice allowed to die without intervention. These data support temperature change as a more subtle indicator of outcome than death and demonstrate that this could be used as a reliable end point for euthanasia. To test the utility of our model in a drug trial, we examined the efficacies of moxifloxacin and levofloxacin by using temperature as a measure of disease severity prior to and during treatment. Regardless of the antibiotic used, mice assessed as moderately ill (temperature ≥ 32°C) at the start of treatment had better clinical and bacteriological outcomes than mice assessed as severely ill (temperature < 32°C). However, moxifloxacin offered better protection and greater bacterial clearance than did levofloxacin in all infected mice independent of disease severity. This model not only allows a more subtle evaluation of drug efficacy but also ensures a better degree of standardization and a more humane approach to drug efficacy studies involving animals.