Between January 1997 and December 1999, bloodstream isolates from 15,439 patients infected with Staphylococcus aureus and 6350 patients infected with coagulase-negative Staphylococcus species (CoNS) were referred by SENTRY-participating hospitals in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, and the Western Pacific region. S. aureus was found to be the most prevalent cause of bloodstream infection, skin and soft-tissue infection, and pneumonia in almost all geographic areas. A notable increase in methicillin (oxacillin) resistance among community-onset and hospital-acquired S. aureus strains was observed in the US centers. The prevalence of methicillin (oxacillin)-resistant S. aureus varied greatly by region, site of infection, and whether the infection was nosocomial or community onset. Rates of methicillin resistance were extremely high among S. aureus isolates from centers in Hong Kong and Japan. Uniformly high levels of methicillin resistance were observed among CoNS isolates. Given the increasing multidrug resistance among staphylococci and the possible emergence of vancomycin-resistant strains, global strategies are needed to control emergence and spread of multiply resistant staphylococci.