Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of bovine mastitis. A simple and efficient typing method would be helpful in understanding S. aureus sources and spread. Ninety-six S. aureus strains, isolated between 1961 and 2003 from the milk of 90 dairy cows belonging to 75 French herds, were subjected to multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeats analysis (MLVA) by PCR. The conjunction of clfA, clfB, SAV1078 and fnb gene tandem repeats (TRs) enabled the definition of 61 types. When coa, spa, sdrC, sdrD and sspA TRs were used individually as additional markers, 63, 68, 67, 65 and 67 types were defined, respectively, versus 77 types when they were all included in the method. These additional TRs did not improve the differentiation of isolates collected in the same farm. The MLVA procedure using the tandem repeats embedded in clfA, clfB, SAV1078 and fnb loci as a basic combination at the herd level or associated with other TRs such as spa, sdrC, sdrD, sspA and coa can be a valuable tool for bovine S. aureus epidemiological studies.