Streptococcus pneumoniae can acquire antibiotic resistance by activation of competence and subsequent DNA uptake. Here, we demonstrate that aztreonam (ATM) and clavulanic acid (CLA) promote competence. We show that both compounds induce cell chain formation by targeting the D, D-carboxypeptidase PBP3. In support of the hypothesis that chain formation promotes competence, we demonstrate that an autolysin mutant (Delta lytB) is hypercompetent. Since competence is initiated by the binding of a small extracellular peptide (CSP) to a membraneanchored receptor (ComD), we wondered whether chain formation alters CSP diffusion kinetics. Indeed, ATM or CLA presence affects competence synchronization by shifting from global to local quorum sensing, as CSP is primarily retained to chained cells, rather than shared in a common pool. Importantly, autocrine-like signaling prolongs the time window in which the population is able to take up DNA. Together, these insights demonstrate the versatility of quorum sensing and highlight the importance of an accurate antibiotic prescription.