1. In a previous study, the differing sensitivity of bacterial strains as they occur in nature appeared to be correlated with their correspondingly differing reactivity with penicillin. Presumably, the over-all reactivity of the cell with penicillin paralleled that of the vulnerable cell component(s). However, when penicillin-resistant variants of these strains (Streptococcus pyogenes, Micrococcus pyogenes, Diplococcus pneumoniae, and Streptococcus faecalis) were produced by serial passage through increasing concentrations of antibiotic, this correlation between resistance and the ability of the cell to bind penicillin was no longer apparent. Some resistant variants bound more penicillin than the parent, sensitive cell (Streptococcus faecalis, Micrococcus pyogenes), some were unchanged in their reactivity (Diplococcus pneumoniae, Micrococcus pyogenes), and some bound less (Streptococcus pyogenes, Micrococcus pyogenes). One resistant variant of Micrococcus pyogenes at first showed enhanced reactivity with penicillin; on continued passage through antibiotic, there was a further increase in resistance, but now associated with a significantly decreased reactivity. In the case of Diplococcus pneumoniae, a resistant variant at first reacted normally with penicillin; on continued passage in antibiotic, its binding affinity for penicillin gradually decreased, but with no associated further increase in resistance.
2. The reactivity with penicillin of cell-free sonic extracts of the resistant variants paralleled that of the intact organisms. Permeability considerations therefore did not seem involved in the increased resistance produced by serial passage in antibiotic.
3. The penicillin-resistant variants did not have an enhanced capacity to degrade the free intracellular antibiotic.
4. Possible alternative explanations are discussed in the text.