Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cenocepacia (formally, genomovar III genotype of Burkholderia cepacia complex) have emerged as serious opportunistic resistant pathogens in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). We have developed a liposomal formulation containing bismuth-ethanedithiol (BiEDT) and tobramycin to overcome bacterial resistance. The stability of liposomal BiEDT-tobramycin (LipoBiEDT-TOB) was studied in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) and human pooled plasma at 4 and 37 degrees C. Minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) and minimal bactericidal concentrations (MBCs) for free tobramycin and LipoBiEDT-TOB against clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa and B. cenocepacia were determined by the broth dilution method. The toxicity profile and the influence on bacterial adhesion of LipoBiEDT-TOB formulation were determined using a human lung carcinoma cell line (A549). LipoBiEDT-TOB exhibited lower MICs than the conventional antibiotic (0.25mg/L vs. 1024 mg/L) and eradicated this highly resistant bacterial strain of P. aeruginosa (PA-48913) at very low concentrations (4 mg/L vs. 4096 mg/L). LipoBiEDT-TOB was significantly less toxic when compared to the free BiEDT, as evaluated by the MTT and LDH assay. The LipoBiEDT-TOB formulation suppressed bacterial adhesion (B. cenocepacia M13642R) to A549 cells. These data suggest that the novel LipoBiEDT-TOB drug delivery system could be utilized as a new strategy to enhance the efficacy of existing antibiotics against resistant organisms that commonly affect individuals with chronic lung infections.