Four simple, accurate, sensitive and economical procedures (A–D) for the estimation of gentamicin sulphate and vancomycin hydrochloride, both in pure form and in pharmaceutical formulations have been developed. The methods are based on the oxidation of the studied drugs by a known excess of potassium permanganate in sulphuric acid medium and subsequent determination of unreacted oxidant by reacting it with amaranth dye (method A), acid orange II (method B), indigocarmine (method C) and methylene blue (method D), in the same acid medium at a suitable λmax=521, 485, 610 and 664 nm, respectively. The reacted oxidant corresponds to the drug content. Regression analysis of Beer-Lambert plots showed good correlations in the concentration ranges 4–8, 3–8, 4–9 and 5–9 µg ml−1 with gentamicin and 4–8, 1.5–4, 1.5–4 and 3.5–5.5 µg ml−1 with vancomycin for methods A, B, C, and D, respectively. The molar absorptivity, sandell sensitivity, detection and quantification limits were calculated. The stoichiometric ratios for the cited drugs were studied. The optimum reaction conditions and other analytical parameters were evaluated. The influence of the substance commonly employed as excipients with these drugs were studied. The proposed methods were applied to the determination of these drugs in pharmaceutical formulations. The results have demonstrated that the methods are equally accurate and reproducible as the official methods.