The discovery of novel antibiotic classes has not kept pace with the growing threat of bacterial resistance. Antibiotic candidates that act at new targets or via distinct mechanisms have the greatest potential to overcome resistance; however, novel approaches are also associated with higher attrition and longer timelines. This uncertainty has contributed to the withdrawal from antibiotic programs by many pharmaceutical companies. Genomic approaches have not yielded satisfactory results, in part due to nascent knowledge about unprecedented molecular targets, the challenge of achieving antibacterial activity by lead optimization of enzyme inhibitors, and the limitations of compound screening libraries for antibacterial discovery. Enhanced diversity of compound screening banks, entry into new chemical space, and new screening technologies are currently being exploited to improve hit rates for antibacterial discovery. Antibacterial compound lead optimization faces hurdles associated with the high plasma exposures required for efficacy. Lead optimization would be enhanced by the identification of new antibiotic classes with improved tractability and by expanding the predictability of in vitro safety assays. Implementing multiple screening and target identification strategies is recommended for improving the likelihood of discovering new antibacterial compounds that address unmet needs.