The primary purpose of the multicenter international study "RESIST" was to obtain an update on the degree of multidrug resistance among methicillin-resistant staphylococci collected from a geographically diverse sample. A total of 3,307 staphylococcal isolates were recovered from single patients and primarily from clinical specimens that were collected at 20 collaborating regional health centers located in several countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America during a 3- to 4-month period each in 1997 and 1998. All strains were deposited at the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at ITQB/UNL in Oeiras, Portugal, for quality control and for testing by microbiological and molecular typing techniques; the Laboratory of Microbiology at The Rockefeller University serving as organizational center. The majority of strains, 3,100, were methicillin-resistant, of which 1,749 were coagulase positive (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA), and 1,351 were coagulase negative (methicillin-resistant coagulase negative staphylococci, MRCNS). The overall frequency of drug resistance traits among the 1,749 MRSA strains was high (over 70% and up to and over 90% of the strains) to ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, clindamycin, gentamicin, and tetracycline, and was somewhat less frequent to sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (45%), chloramphenicol (30%), and rifampin (38%). None of the 3,307 staphylococcal isolates showed reduced susceptibility to vancomycin except for a single methicillin-resistant coagulase-negative isolate. The great majority of staphylococci were also susceptible to the new antimicrobial Synercid. In contrast, resistance to teicoplanin was significant among methicillin-resistant strains of coagulase-negative staphylococci, particularly among Staphylococcus haemolyticus. MRSA isolates showed marked geographic variation in their patterns of multiresistance, most likely reflecting the properties of unique multiresistant MRSA clones dominant in the hospitals that provided the MRSA isolates from the various geographic areas. The multiresistance patterns of MRSA strains and strains of methicillin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci originating at the same country source also showed striking differences, suggesting that resistance to antimicrobial agents emerged under different antibiotic pressures in these bacterial species.