Early aggressive therapy with maintenance infusions of methyl-prednisolone sodium succinate and gentamicin sulfate significantly increases the probability for survival of baboons given LD100 Escherichia coli. The present study was designed to determine if baboons would recover when initiation of treatment was delayed until they had sustained E. coli-induced systemic hypotension for a period of approximately three hours. Sixteen adult baboons were each administered a two-hour infusion of LD100 E. coli. All eight untreated animals died within 42 hours. Five of the eight baboons treated after approximately three hours of hypotension with methylprednisolone sodium succinate and gentamicin sulfate survived. Treated animals had significantly higher blood glucose and insulin levels and lower blood urea nitrogen concentrations than baboons receiving E. coli alone. E. coli blood concentrations were lower in the treated than in the untreated baboon group by the sixth hour (< 0.02). Heart rates increased in all animals but were not as high in the treated baboons. Both groups experienced similar decreases in mean systemic arterial pressure, PCO2, base excess, leukocyte, lymphocyte, and platelet concentrations, and increases in creatine and lactate concentrations. Data from the present study indicate that the probability of recovery from shock is significantly increased even when initiation of steroid/antibiotic therapy is postponed until baboons have experienced sustained systemic hypotension.