Asia is almost certainly a part of the world in which extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs) have emerged de novo, with some early antimicrobial resistance studies showing high levels of the ESBL phenotype, particularly among Klebsiella, and most notably in China, Korea, Japan and India. There is a lack of genotyping studies but work from the late 1990s suggests that SHV-5 and SHV-12 were most common then, with only very rare reports of TEM-related ESBL genes. As in other parts of the world, quite marked differences have since been seen in the pattern of ESBL genes, particularly in relation to the CTX-M family. The early emergence of TOHO CTX-M-2 in Japan contrasted with CTX-M-3 and -14 in China and many other parts of the Far East, suggesting the separate transfer of genes from the genome of Kluyvera spp. to mobile genetic elements in human-associated Enterobacteriaceae. ESBL production rates are now very high compared with Europe. In most countries, there are mixtures of CTX-M types, with VEB appearing significantly in Vietnam and Thailand, and ESBL isolates from India being completely dominated by the presence of bla(CTX-M-15) alone, with no other CTX-M types reported. With the total population of India and China being c. 2.4 billion and with faecal carriage rates of, probably, c. 10%, these countries represent major reservoirs of bla(CTX-M) genes. Increasing international travel and trade will lead to the movement of many of these ESBL genes. The high prevalence of ESBL genes in Asia means that the empirical treatment of serious infections with beta-lactam antibiotics, except carbapenems, is seriously compromised.