Infection caused by Mycobacterium avium is common in AIDS patients who do not receive treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) or who develop resistance to anti-HIV therapy. Mefloquine, a racemic mixture used for malaria prophylaxis and treatment, is bactericidal against M. avium in mice. MICs of (+)-erythro-, (-)-erythro-, (+)-threo-, and (-)-threo-mefloquine were 32 μg/ml, 32 μg/ml, 64 μg/ml, and 64 μg/ml, respectively. The postantibiotic effect for (+)-erythro-mefloquine was 36 h (MIC) and 41 h for a concentration of 4× MIC. The mefloquine postantibiotic effect was 25 h (MIC and 4× MIC). After baseline infection was established (7 days), the (+)- and (-)-isomers of the diastereomeric threo- and erythro-α-(2-piperidyl)-2,8-bis(trifluoromethyl)-4-quinolinemethanol were individually used to orally treat C57BL/6 bg(+)/bg(+) beige mice that were infected intravenously with M. avium. Mice were also treated with commercial mefloquine and diluent as controls. After 4 weeks of treatment, the mice were harvested, and the number of bacteria in spleen and liver was determined. Mice receiving (+)- or (-)-threo-mefloquine or (-)-erythro-mefloquine had numbers of bacterial load in tissues similar to those of untreated control mice at 4 weeks. Commercial mefloquine had a bactericidal effect. However, mice given the (+)-erythro-enantiomer for 4 weeks had a significantly greater reduction of bacterial load than those given mefloquine. Thus, (+)-erythro-mefloquine is the active enantiomer of mefloquine against M. avium and perhaps other mycobacteria.