A comprehensive control program for utilization of antimicrobial agents in a large tertiary university teaching hospital regulates both dosage and duration of therapy and requires the prior approval of an infectious disease specialist for utilization of restricted antimicrobial agents. Benefits of the program include more cost-effective antimicrobial therapy and increased physician education in the use of these drugs. Gross savings in pharmacy costs for antibiotics during the first year of the program (1985) amounted to $483,032 for an average monthly savings of $40,252. Gross savings for 1986 were $211,786 with monthly savings of $17,648. The control of the use of one agent may lead to overuse of another agent. Antimicrobial prescribing patterns of physicians are quickly influenced by changing regulations of the program. An ongoing surveillance and review program of in-hospital utilization of antimicrobial agents is necessary to maintain effective and flexible controls.