The widespread appearance of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has significantly undermined the efficacy of currently available antibiotic therapies as strains tend to be multi-resistant. Clinicians are therefore faced with a restricted choice in effective anti-MRSA therapies for infection or elimination of carriage. MRSA remain uniformly susceptible to glycopeptides vancomycin and teicoplanin which remain drugs of choice in treatment of infections. Centres with a high incidence of MRSA should use glycopeptides as empirical monotherapies against these organisms. The low toxicity of teicoplanin makes it an alternative for patients unable to tolerate vancomycin. Only mupirocin is truly effective for use as a topical agent in elimination of MRSA colonisation. For systemic use developmental glycopeptides such as daptomycin, MDL 63246, and LY191145 show better in vitro activity than vancomycin. New cephalosporins TOC-39 and FK-037 show promising anti-MRSA potential with low MICs, as does carbapenem BO-2727 which has a high in vitro activity. Whether the new cephalosporins and carbapenems with good in vitro and/or in vivo activities against MRSA will be clinically effective remains to be determined. New fluoroquinolones levofloxacin, temafloxacin and sparfloxacin have enhanced in vitro anti-MRSA activity, although the emergence of resistance, and subsequent cross resistance to related compounds during therapy is a problem. BAY 12-8039, DV-7751 and CS-940 are developmental fluoroquinolones with better in vitro activity and lower spontaneous mutation rates than related compounds. Co-trimoxazole shows good in vivo anti-MRSA activity, comparable to vancomycin, however, severe infections do not respond well and many strains are resistant to this drug. Rifampicin has excellent bactericidal activity but rapidly emerging resistance undermines its use as a monotherapy. Its use in a combination therapy offers limited potential as an alternative. Arbekacin shows good in vitro activity against many MRSA isolates, although resistance to related aminoglycosides is a problem. Streptogramins, virginiamicin and RP 59500 (dalfopristin/quinupristin), and the everninomicin SCH 27899, show excellent activity in vitro and in vivo activity against MRSA and real future potential as alternative agents to vancomycin. Azeleic acid and ramoplanin show future potential as agents for topical use against MRSA. In conclusion only vancomycin as a systemic agent and mupirocin as a topical agent, offer sufficient reliability for use against MSRA. Alternatives to glycopeptides and mupirocin rest with the development of new drugs from several classes of compounds.