Antibacterial polymers are potentially powerful biocides that can destroy bacteria on contact. Debate in the literature has surrounded the mechanism of action of polymeric biocides and the propensity for bacteria to develop resistance to them. There has been particular interest in whether surfaces with covalently coupled polymeric biocides have the same mechanism of action and resistance profile as similar soluble polymeric biocides. We designed and synthesized a series of poly(quaternary ammonium) polymers, with tailorable molecular structures and architectures, to engineer their antibacterial specificity and their ability to delay the development of bacterial resistance. These linear poly(quaternary ammonium) homopolymers and block copolymers, generated using atom transfer radical polymerization, had structure-dependent antibacterial specificity toward Gram positive and negative bacterial species. When single block copolymers contained two polymer segments of differing antibacterial specificity, the polymer combined the specificities of its two components. Nanoparticulate human serum albumin-poly(quaternary ammonium) conjugates of these same polymers, synthesized via "grafting from" atom transfer radical polymerization, were strongly biocidal and also exhibited a marked decrease in the rate of bacterial resistance development relative to linear polymers. These protein-biocide conjugates mimicked the behavior of surface-presented polycationic biocides rather than their nonproteinaceous counterparts.