Twelve strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with high-level resistance to mupirocin were studied. The MIC of methicillin was 16 to 128 mg/l and the MIC of mupirocin > or = 512 mg/l. All of the isolates carried a plasmid of about 30 MDa, and one strain lost resistance to mupirocin when the plasmid was cured. Three different resistance patterns were found: six strains were resistant to ciprofloxacin, kanamycin, and 10 mg/l of cadmium sulfate; two strains were resistant to these agents as well as to gentamicin, erythromycin, clindamycin, mercury chloride, and ethidium bromide; and four strains were resistant to the previously named agents as well as to rifampicin and tetracycline. The use of this valuable topical antibiotic, especially in long-term-care facilities, should be monitored to avoid dissemination of resistance.