Forty patients with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, three of whom had complicating acute hepatitis syndrome, eight late-onset hepatic failure, and 29 with cirrhosis, were treated with ceftriaxone 2 g intravenously once daily for 5 days. Ascitic fluid culture was positive in 28 patients, with Escherichia coli and Klebsiella as common isolates. All the bacteria isolated were sensitive to ceftriaxone except Enterococcus faecalis, which was isolated in a cirrhotic patient. All culture-positive patients sensitive to ceftriaxone showed bacteriological cure and 26 (65%) patients showed cytological cure after 48 hours of treatment. A total of 95% were cured of their infection after 5 days of treatment. Twelve (30%) patients died during hospitalisation after documented cure of their spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (renal failure, gastrointestinal bleed and cerebral oedema were the primary causes of death). Infection-related mortality due to Pseudomonas septicaemia was seen in one cirrhotic patient.