The impact and prevalence of antimicrobial drug resistance in rural community healthcare settings is uncertain. Prospective surveillance in 51 rural hospitals in Idaho and Utah examined the epidemiologic features of clinical cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). Thirty-two cases of VRE were reported; for 6, the patient had no prior healthcare exposure or coexisting condition. Among the 724 MRSA cases available for evaluation, 405 (56%) were healthcare-associated (HA-MRSA), and 319 (44%) were community-associated (CA-MRSA). The characteristics of HA-MRSA and CA-MRSA patients with coexisting factors were similar, which suggests community transmission of healthcare strains. CA-MRSA cases without coexisting factors, however, demonstrated features previously reported for community strains. MRSA infections were substantially more frequent than VRE in rural communities in the western United States. Based on epidemiologic criteria, a large proportion of MRSA cases were community-associated. CA-MRSA rates were predictive of institutional MRSA rates.