Proteins produced in elevated amounts in response to oxacillin challenge of Staphylococcus aureus strain RN450, were studied by comparing Coomassie blue stained two-dimensional gels of cellular proteins. At least nine proteins were produced in elevated amounts following exposure to growth inhibitory concentrations of oxacillin. N-terminal sequences were obtained for five of the proteins and the databases were searched to tentatively identify them. The proteins were identified as homologs of (i) methionine sulfoxide reductase (MsrA); (ii) a signal transduction protein (TRAP) involved in regulating RNAIII production encoded by the agr locus; (iii) transcription elongation factor GreA; (iv) the heat shock protein GroES; and (v) the enzyme IIA component of the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system. A similar induction response was observed with the other cell wall-active antibiotics, but not with antibiotics that affect other cellular targets. Increased transcription of the msrA and groEL genes in response to cell wall-active antibiotics was also demonstrated. Although net protein synthesis is inhibited subsequent to inhibition of peptidoglycan biosynthesis by cell wall-active antibiotics, some proteins are induced in S. aureus, presumably in an attempt by the cell to counter the inhibitory effects of these agents.