Objectives: Beta-lactam antibiotics represent the most commonly prescribed antibacterial agents. Since many bacteria have developed resistance to older agents, new beta-lactams have been introduced constantly. In the late 1970s, a new class of exceptionally broad-spectrum beta-lactams, the carbapenems, was identified. The carbapenems, such as the most popular imipenem and meropenem, have the widest spectra of antibacterial activity of all the beta-lactams and provide excellent coverage of many gram-negative and gram-positive aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. Despite the wide antibacterial spectrum, the carbapenems globally lack activity against Enterococcus faecium, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. Methods: We reviewed the principal characteristics of the novel carbapenems and their clinical implications. Results and conclusions: We included in our review: ertapenem, biapenem, panipenem, doripenem, tebipenem pivoxil and tomopenem.