A total of 569 different bacterial isolates (156 Salmonella, 202 E. coli, 43 S. aureus, 38 S. hyicus, 52 E. faecalis, 78 E faecium) were tested for susceptibility to copper sulphate, benzalkonium chloride, hydrogen peroxide and chlorhexidine using MIC determinations. A total of 442 isolates were also tested for susceptibility to formaldehyde and 177 isolates for susceptibility to zinc chloride. Enterococcal isolates formed a bimodal distribution of MICs to copper sulphate, whereas the other bacterial species formed one large population. Otherwise the isolates formed one large population of susceptibilities to the different antimicrobial agents. Large variations were observed in the susceptibility of the different bacterial species to the different compounds. Staphylococci were in general very susceptible to all antimicrobial compounds tested. The Salmonella isolates were in general less susceptible to copper sulphate, benzalkonium chloride and chlorhexidine followed by E. coli and the Gram-positive species. The opposite was the case for zinc chloride. All isolates were very susceptible to H2O2 with MICs ranging from 0.002 to 0.016%, and to formaldehyde with MICs at 0.003 and 0.006%. This study showed that Danish bacterial isolates from livestock so far have not or have only to a limited degree developed resistance to antimicrobial compounds commonly used for disinfection. Acquired copper resistance was only found in enterococci. There were large differences in the intrinsic susceptibility of the different bacterial species to these compounds, and Salmonella especially seems intrinsically less susceptible than the other bacterial species, which might have human health implications. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.