To determine current opinions among experts in pediatric infectious diseases for treatment of bacterial sepsis, meningitis and acute otitis media, we polled directors of training programs in January, 1992. Responses were received from 69 centers in the United States and Canada. For initial treatment of presumed bacterial meningitis, the third generation cephalosporins alone or combined with ampicillin have become drugs of choice in all age groups. Most infectious disease programs include dexamethasone in the management of presumed bacterial meningitis for children 2 months of age and older. Third generation cephalosporins are also drugs of choice for presumed sepsis: combined with ampicillin for infants 5 weeks of age; used alone for children 5 months and 12 years of age. Amoxicillin remains the preferred drug for initial treatment of acute otitis media. The combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid is favored in the setting of an increased proportion of beta-lactamase-producing bacterial pathogens. Comparison of these results with polls in 1987 and 1989 indicates a shift in recommendations of therapy of presumed bacterial sepsis and meningitis from ampicillin alone or combined with an aminoglycoside or chloramphenicol to use of a third generation cephalosporin alone or combined with ampicillin.