One hundred methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains, isolated between 1983 and 1999, were tested alongside the vancomycin hetero-resistant S. aureus (hVRSA) strain Mu 3, and vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA) strain Mu 50, for their resistance to vancomycin. This was achieved using the screening method described by Hiramatsu, gradient plates, agar incorporation, standard Etest, macrodilution Etest and a modified population analysis. Using Hiramatsu's screening method, 5% of the 100 MRSA were identified as VRSA and 5% identified as hVRSA, the gradient plates identified 7% hVRSA, and the standard and macrodilution Etests identified no hVRSA. Mu 3 appeared to be vancomycin-susceptible using both the agar incorporation and standard Etest methods, but was classified as hVRSA using the macrodilution Etest. The modified population analysis reliably detected vancomycin hetero-resistance in Mu 3 and identified no hVRSAs within the 100 MRSA sample.