© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Little is known about undergraduate education on antibiotic prescribing in Europe and even less about the antibiotic prescribing skills of nearly-graduated medical students. This study aimed to evaluate the antibiotic prescribing skills of final-year medical students across Europe and the education they received during medical training. In a cross-sectional study, final-year medical students from 17 medical schools in 15 European countries were asked to prescribe for two written case reports of infectious diseases (acute bronchitis and community-acquired pneumonia). The appropriateness of antimicrobial therapy was determined using a scoring form based on local guidelines. Teachers from each medical school were asked to complete a standardised questionnaire about the teaching and assessment of undergraduate education on antibiotic use. In total, 856 final-year medical students (95.6%) completed the assessment and 16 teachers (94.1%) completed the questionnaire. Overall, 52.7% (range 26–83%) of the 1.683 therapies prescribed were considered appropriate. The mean number of contact hours for undergraduate education on antimicrobials was 25.6 (range 2–90). Differences in education styles were found to have a significant impact on students’ performance, with a problem-based learning style being associated with more appropriate antimicrobial prescribing than a traditional learning style (46.0% vs. 22.9%; P < 0.01). Although there are differences between medical schools, final-year medical students in Europe lack prescribing skills for two common infectious diseases, possibly because of inadequate undergraduate education on antibiotic use and general prescribing. To improve students’ skills, interactive teaching methods such as prescribing for simulated and real patients should be used.