Arbekacin is an aminoglycoside used in Japan for treating infections caused by gentamicin and oxacillin-resistant S. aureus (ORSA). The objective of this study was to determine the in vitro antimicrobial activity of arbekacin against 454 clinical isolates of ORSA. The isolates were consecutively collected between January and July, 2000, from patients hospitalized in 8 Brazilian medical centers. The antimicrobial susceptibility testing was performed by disk diffusion method according to NCCLS recommendations. The vast majority of the isolates, 453 strains (99.8%), were considered susceptible to arbekacin based on the criteria proposed by the Requirements for Antibiotic Products of Japan. Only 1 isolate (0.2%) was classified as resistant. On the other hand, high rates of resistance were demonstrated for other aminoglycosides, such as gentamicin (97.6% resistance) and amikacin (97.0% resistance). Resistance rate was also high for ciprofloxacin (98.0%). All isolates were considered susceptible to vancomycin. The excellent in vitro antimicrobial activity of arbekacin demonstrated in this study indicates that this antimicrobial agent may play an important role in the treatment of severe ORSA infections, especially those that show poor clinical response with vancomycin monotherapy. Since the aminoglycosides should not be used as monotherapy to treat Gram positive infections, further studies evaluating in vitro and in vivo synergistic activity of arbekacin combinations are necessary to clarify the clinical role of this aminoglycoside.