We compared the clinical performances of the BacT/Alert Plus (bioMérieux) and Bactec Plus (Becton Dickinson) aerobic and anaerobic blood culture (BC) media with adsorbent polymeric beads. Patients ≥ 16 years old with suspected bloodstream infections (BSIs) were enrolled in intensive care units and infectious disease wards. A single 40-ml blood sample was collected from each and used to inoculate (10 ml/bottle) one set of BacT/Alert Plus cultures and one set of Bactec Plus cultures, each set consisting of one aerobic and one anaerobic bottle. Cultures were incubated ≤ 5 days in the BacT/Alert 3D and Bactec FX instruments, respectively. A total of 128 unique BSI episodes were identified based on the recovery of clinically significant growth in 212 aerobic cultures (106 BacT/Alert and 106 Bactec) and 151 anaerobic cultures (82 BacT/Alert and 69 Bactec). The BacT/Alert aerobic medium had higher recovery rates for Gram-positive cocci (P = 0.024), whereas the Bactec aerobic medium was superior for recovery of Gram-negative bacilli (P = 0.006). BacT/Alert anaerobic medium recovery rates exceeded those of the Bactec anaerobic medium for total organisms (P = 0.003), Gram-positive cocci (P = 0.013), and Escherichia coli (P = 0.030). In terms of capacity for diagnosing the 128 septic episodes, the BacT/Alert and Bactec sets were comparable, although the former sets diagnosed more BSIs caused by Gram-positive cocci (P = 0.008). They also allowed earlier identification of coagulase-negative staphylococcal growth (mean, 2.8 h; P = 0.003) and growth in samples from patients not on antimicrobial therapy that yielded positive results (mean, 1.3 h; P < 0.001). Similarly high percentages of microorganisms in BacT/Alert and Bactec cultures (93.8% and 93.3%, respectively) were identified by direct matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry assay of BC broths. The BacT/Alert Plus media line appears to be a reliable, timesaving tool for routine detection of BSIs in the population we studied, although further studies are needed to evaluate their performance in other settings.