A retrospective study was carried out to investigate possible reasons for a marked increase in fusidic acid-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (FusR S. aureus) identified by our routine hospital microbiology service. Information was obtained on a sample of 64 consecutive patients from whom resistant S. aureus had been cultured. The source of isolates was found to be diffuse within the hospital and community. The site of sample was most frequently chronic cutaneous infections (68%). All the S. aureus isolates were resistant to both fusidic acid and penicillin and many were resistant to multiple antibiotics. Topical fusidic acid had been used by 40% of patients in the preceding 6 months and none had received oral fusidic acid (sodium fusidate). Most (80%) had received an oral antibiotic in the preceding 2 years. Information from the Prescriptions Pricing Authority revealed that the total number of prescriptions for fusidic acid-containing preparations for the period September 1997 to August 1998 was markedly higher in Harrogate than in five other local areas where increases in (FusR) S. aureus have not been observed.