The hands of medical personnel are the chief vectors for transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and probably serve as an important reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes in hospitals. In this survey we examined different reservoirs of the methicillin resistance gene, mecA, using a simplified PCR method. Samples (n = 151) were taken from the hands of medical and non-medical personnel and healthy children and from surfaces in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). We also performed sampling from 4 different body sites in 5 of the medical personnel. Fifteen out of 16 nurses (94%) from the ICU carried the mecA gene on their hands, whereas only 35% of the paediatric nurses were mecA-positive. Of all medical personnel, 44% carried the mecA gene on their hands. There was a significant difference (p < 0.015) between medical and non-medical personnel in terms of the carriage rate of mecA. Four samples from surfaces in a NICU--2 ventilators, 1 bench and 1 telephone--were positive for mecA. Our results are comparable with those from previous studies on reservoirs of methicillin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci using conventional culture techniques.