The frequency of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections continues to grow in hospital-associated settings and, more recently, in community settings in the United States and globally. The increase in the incidence of infections due to S. aureus is partially a consequence of advances in patient care and also of the pathogen's ability to adapt to a changing environment. Infection due to S. aureus imposes a high and increasing burden on health care resources. A growing concern is the emergence of MRSA infections in patients with no apparent risk factors. MRSA infection in community settings involves considerable morbidity and mortality, as does nosocomial MRSA infection. For community-associated MRSA, person-to-person transmission has been reported, and several factors have been shown to predict disease. We examine the trends in both nosocomial and community-associated MRSA infections and explore recent studies of the mechanisms that allow S. aureus to become resistant to currently available drugs.